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European Union demands anti-graft report

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European Union (EU) Ambassador to Malawi, Marchel Gerrmann, Wednesday demanded that the government should release the April 2017 high-level National Anti- Corruption Conference report as a matter of “high priority”.
“We are still awaiting the official report of this conference [National Anti-Corruption Conference], including recommendations for action. We call on the government to follow up as a matter of high priority,” Gerrmann said in a speech during an event focusing on performance evaluation results of ministries and departments.
In an interview after the ceremony, Germann said he asked for the report because stakeholders need to know how they can work together to implement the reforms as recommended during the April conference.
“Further public finance management reforms need to be carried through to improve the quality and level of service delivery, budget efficiency and disbursement,” he said.
The EU Ambassador also expressed concerns on reports of procurement scandals by underscoring the importance of effective implementation of the new Procurement Act for the government to get value for money and prevent leakages.
He said EU’s support towards Performance Evaluation of public institutions resonates with the new European consensus on development that “effective governance institutions and systems that are responsive to public needs, deliver essential services and promote inclusive growth”.
“Among other initiatives, the EU commits to tackle corruption and promote transparency and accountability in public funding and the delivery of public services,” he said.
The Peter Mutharika administration is grappling with corruption at Cabinet level and fraud at Capital Hill, vices that are said to be draining public coffers.
The National Audit Office report for June 30 2016 reveals the extent of fraudulent activities at Capital Hill and exposes failures by controlling officers to implement the financial management system.
The report exposes how close to K1 billion could not be accounted for at the Ministry of Health, after being paid to people that could not be traced. It further says other payments were made using rates that were not approved.
About 265 million was paid out in allowances to officers who are not bonafide civil servants and K399 million was paid out to people that cannot be traced whereas K61 million was paid out to non-deserving staff
The Zambian maize procurement scandal, which implicated George Chaponda, who was minister of Agriculture, and several other cases involving members of Mutharika’s Cabinet, are some of the indicators that corruption has taken centre stage in the current administration.
However, the public sector performance evaluation results for the 2016/17 financial year, showed some improvements by some ministries. The performance of the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, Ministry of Finance, Malawi Law Commission and the Ombudsman’s office improved this year, compared to 2015/16.
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, National Audit Office and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs are also said to have performed better in their respective categories than last year
The Financial Intelligence Authority and National Assembly were ranked the best performing constitutional bodies whereas the Competition and Fair Trading Commission is the best performing parastatal, with the rest of the departments faring badly during the financial year.
“Over the last year, progress has been made but these efforts will need to be broadened and sustained. Further Public Finance Management reforms need to be carried through to improve the quality and level of service delivery, budget efficiency and disbursement,” Gerrmann said
On Procurement, he said, the recently enacted Procurement law should play an important role in ensuring transparency in procurement of goods and services at all levels.
“This is an important area and I would like to underscore the importance of effective implementation of this Act for the government to get value for money and prevent leakage,” he said.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, who could not respond to issues that Gerrmann raised, said the civil service was the backbone of development and civil servants must be accountable to themselves and the general public.
“It is a bad culture if we are not accountable to ourselves; it is a bad culture if we are corrupt and it is a bad culture if we think of enriching ourselves at the expense of the country. I think we can do better,” Gondwe said.

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