By Deogratias Mmana:
The government has launched a K79 billion ($100 million) Governance to Enable Service Delivery (Gesd) Project in local councils to be implemented for five years.
The project is aimed at improving the socio-economic status of local council residents.
Vice President Saulos Chilima, who launched the initiative, warned Local Government officials to abandon “business as usual” attitude if the project were to be successful.
“Local Government authorities shall be held accountable and controlling officers will account for any sub-standard works.
“I, therefore, wish to urge you to focus on the goal of the project and make sure that you positively contribute to this country’s development through this noble duty,” Chilima said.
Chilima said Gesd had been designed to address some of the challenges that derail the country’s decentralisation drive.
“Malawi’s overarching development strategies have consistently identified decentralisation as a transformational catalyst to strengthen local service delivery,” he said.
The National Decentralisation Policy of 1998 was formulated to empower Local Government authorities to deliver public services more efficiently and cost-effectively.
“To this effect, the Tonse Alliance administration, led by His Excellency Dr Lazarus Chakwera, President of the Republic of Malawi, strongly believes that local authorities have the potential to effectively deliver quality services for sustainable economic growth,” Chilima said.
Finance Minister Felix Mlusu said the project is funded by the World Bank for the next five years to the tune of K79 billion ($100 million).
Mlusu said the project would be a litmus test for the Central Government as it would enable it to monitor if policies from ministries, departments and agencies were responsive to government demands.
Mlusu said the project would address the problem of inadequacy of funds for council implemented projects.
Local Government Deputy Minister Halima Daudi said the government was implementing Gesd project in all the 28 districts of the country.
“The funds will be disbursed to all district councils commensurate with their performance. The council that performs well will get more money and the council that performs poorly will get less money,” Daudi said.
Some of the indicators for good performance in a council include having District Development Plan, Annual Investment Plan, identifying projects that are in line with community needs and embarking on projects that can be completed within a year.
During the launch, the Ministry of Local Government announced six districts that have performed well in their service delivery and these are Balaka, Lilongwe, Mchinji, Kasungu, Rumphi and Blantyre.
The poorest performing districts include Chikwawa, Ntchisi, Mmbelwa, Zomba, Mangochi, Phalombe, Machinga and Chiradzulu.