THE Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace(CCJP) and Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) have said the government’s promise to increase allocations to governance bodies including the Anti-Corruption Bureau(ACB) is not the last solution to governance bodies’ ineffectiveness.
In a budget statement that he delivered in Parliament on Friday, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said in response to the criticism of the 2016/2017 mid-term revised budget that governance institutions have benefited from large budgetary increases within their other recurrent transactions (ORT) budgetary lines.
The beneficiaries include the ACB, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the Ombudsman, the Legal Aid Bureau and the Assets Declaration Directorate. According to Gondwe, the increased funds will help them to operate effectively. CCJP National Secretary, Martin Chiphwanya, said the allocations alone are not enough as the biggest challenge over the years has been the issue of untimely disbursements.
“There is need to ensure a proper balance between allocation and actual disbursement so that operations are not crippled unnecessarily,” Chiphwanya said. He said the ACB’s problem is even more than funding citing issues of political interference which continue to haunt the governance institutions. Cedep Executive Director,
Gift Trapence, described it as a positive move that needs to match efficiency of the institutions in terms of delivery of services saying the problem of some of such institutions has been more than funding.
“The government needs to address the issue of independence of these institutions. They need to free the institutions from partisan influence in their work. We need to see for example ACB that is not selective in dealing with issues of corruption,” Trapence said. He also said mostly the government pledges funding on paper and ends up not fulfilling such obligations.
“It is our hope that these institutions will continue to be funded timely,” he said. In the 2016/2017 budget, Parliament approved about K2 billion for the ACB, K413 million for the Legal Aid Bureau, K382 million for the office of the Ombudsman and K648 million for the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The ACB has not been able to employ the required number of staff in the past two years due to funding challenges, a development crippling the operations of the bureau. The Legal Aid Bureau also suspended the provision of legal services in homicide cases due to funding challenges.
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