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‘ATI key to donor aid resumption’ – Michael Usi

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As pressure continues to mount on Malawi’s economy, one of the country’s social commentators Michael Usi says government is shooting itself in the foot by delaying the passing of the Access to Information Bill (ATI).

Usi, who is also deputy country director for the Adventist Relief Agency (Adra) told reporters in Blantyre on Wednesday that the ATI is crucial in donor aid resumption as it promotes transparency and the fight against corruption in the country.

Speaking in his personal capacity, Usi said after talking to some donors both within and outside Malawi, one thing remains clear that there is lack of transparency in as far as the handling of public resources are concerned.

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Usi said most donors he has spoken to are of the view that Malawi needs systems that promote transparency and accountability before they could reopen their aid taps for Malawi.

“Following the cash gate, the donors are skeptical in as far as dealing with government is concerned. This is so because our systems are seen not to be very transparent.

“By passing the ATI, government would be sending a message to the donors that it is transparent and has nothing to hide,” said Usi.

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He added that apart from impressing the donors, the ATI would help local Malawians to fully participate in the governance process, as they will be able to know what is happening in their country.

European Union Ambassador to Malawi Marchel Germann recently urged government to walk the talk by tabling and passing the ATI Bill.

Despite promising in its 2014 election campaign that it will pass the bill, the Peter Mutharika administration has been dragging its feet on the matter.

Just recently, Cabinet pushed aside the bill, which was initially planned to be discussed during the current sitting of Parliament, citing technicalities in the bill as the reason.

But Usi said Parliament has the capacity to iron out the technical hitches in the ATI Bill before it is passed.

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