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Government warns Public Works Programme fund abusers

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Malawi government has stressed that it is serious on its warning to punish anyone found to be abusing funds for the Public Works Programme (PWP), a component of the Local Development Fund (LDF).

Officially opening the PWP review meeting in Blantyre on Monday, Chief Director in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Dorothy Banda said the government will spare no one found to be part of the circle of people abusing the said project funds.

“I am embarrassed that councils have been caught in the middle of abuse of resources meant for development. We are worried that at a time when we have been championing for fiscal decentralisation at the local authority, some people are destroying the gains achieved this far through corruption and theft of government resources,” Banda said.

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The two-day meeting, which has drawn together councillors, councils’ officials, district commissioners, police officers-in-charge, traditional leaders, the civil society and other stakeholders in the implementation of PWP; is the first in a series to cover all Malawi’s three regions.

LDF Executive Director, Charles Mandala said they had decided to convene the forums to review and brainstorm on the implementation of PWP, to avoid thwarting the good intentions that the World Bank funded project was meant for.

“If we indeed don’t go by its objectives [PWP], it’s future would be in turmoil. The objectives of the projects are being threatened towards doom, going by what is going on in some councils where some officials and stakeholders are busy abusing the funds and not following the right procedures in implementing it,” he said.

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According to the LDF head, some of the challenges that the PWP was facing include: late liquidation of expenses, non-following of procedures, ghost projects, ghost beneficiaries, deliberate flouting of regulations, and many vices.

Banda, however, said the government would this time around not relent “to turn things around, beginning now”.

“Time has come to reverse the rot in our councils through prudent fiscal management. We also need to start inculcating discipline in the way we manage our councils. Our Ministry is at the centre of government reforms and we have to be seen changing – we need to reform!” she said.

Banda also expressed concern that some councillors and law enforcers had allegedly joined the bandwagon of those abusing the funds, leaving their role of policing the very same.

“The police are aiding and abetting the rot through sharing unpaid ages with staff. Government will not condone the decay in morals and the unethical conduct of such councils at whatever level,” she said.

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