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EU sets tough conditions for budgetary support

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The Access to Information Bill, which Parliament is yet to pass into law, is one of the issues standing in between government and budgetary support worth 29 million Euros (about K16.4 billion) from EU.

The EU has put the matter as one of the pre-conditions for the resumption of aid to the country.

Government confirmed yesterday that the EU, which froze aid to the country alongside other donors following the revelations of Cashgate in 2013, has set a number of conditions for government to meet before support resumes.

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Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe, said yesterday the EU has set “quite a number of demands”.

“They [EU] have set a lot of demands. Of course, one of them is the tabling in Parliament of the Access to Information Bill. They have made it clear that their support will only be given if we comply with their demands 100 percent. Surely, we have an uphill task because the demands are so many. But I can assure you that we will fulfill their demands,” he said.

Gondwe stated that the government is planning to table the bill in the next parliamentary sitting scheduled for November 2015.

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The development comes hot on the heels of soaring inflation rate which currently hovers around 21.3 percent.

The minister added that the government would sit down with an EU delegation in December to evaluate progress on the raised issues.

According to Minister of Information, Kondwani Nankhumwa, his ministry, which is the custodian of the bill, has sorted out all the necessary issues for the bill to be sent to Parliament.

“I am told that the Ministry of Finance has written our ministry informing us of the development. I am yet to see the contents of the letter but, as a ministry, we are just waiting for the Ministry of Justice to send the bill back to us. On our part, we are very ready since we have done everything that we were asked to do,” he said.

If turned into law, the bill would ensure that custodians of information are obliged to release it to the general public on demand.

Information sourced from the Ministry of Information indicates that the bill was sent back from the Ministry of Justice in May where it had been sent in January 2015.

The bill is expected to go for Cabinet approval once it is in the hands of the Minister of Information before being tabled in Parliament.

Before resending the bill to the Ministry of Justice, stakeholders such as the Media Council of Malawi and the Media Institute of Southern Africa- Malawi Chapter deliberated on the observations from the Ministry of Justice.

Government has been cagey when addressing issues pertaining to the bill despite the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration committing itself to ensuring that the bill is turned into law.

Efforts to talk to the EU proved futile yesterday as its ambassador, Marchel Germann, was reported to be out of the country.

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