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K4 billion haunts government

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

A study by the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has revealed that money disbursed under K4 billion Parliament allocated to all the country’s 193 constituencies has not yet reached intended beneficiaries in some of the councils.

The study, conducted in Dowa, Ntchisi, Mwanza, Neno, Karonga and Chitipa, has also revealed that, in other councils, Area Development Committee (ADC) members are not aware whether the money was received.

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According to the report, failure to provide adequate information to the public, ADCs and councillors is breeding political speculation on the K4 billion funds.

The report is faulting Members of Parliament who are said to have proposed their own projects, when ADCs are supposed to initiate the projects.

 “Unexplained and unnecessary delays by Councils to disburse or facilitate project implementation has bred perception of corruption and politicisation of projects in Neno, Mwanza, Ntchisi and Dowa districts,” says report

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The report findings show that some districts have started implementing various development projects at constituency level under community window of the K4 billion while others are yet to identify projects that can be funded

The report cited an example of Ntchisi District Council, where it says despite receiving funds in June 2018, the district have not yet disbursed the K19.5 million that was allocated to each of the constituencies.

Among its recommendations, the report has stated that there is an urgent need for establishment and orientation of independent operational committees on the K4 billion funding.

ECM is currently implementing a three-year project called Citizen Action in Local Government Accountability (Calga) project in the six districts, alongside Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC).

Apart from the K4 billion allocation, the study also focused on management of Local Development Fund (LDF), Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and District Development Fund (DDF).

Spokesperson for Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said she could not comment on the findings as the ministry has not seen the report.

However, some civil society organisations have said government does not know what it wants.

Centre for Multiparty Democracy Programmes Officer Andrew Mpesi said it is clear that K4 billion funding, LDF, DDF and CDF have no proper direction.

“Decentralisation in the country is just on paper, in real terms, it is still remains a dream. There are a lot of challenges when it comes to implementation. I think it could have been better to revert to the old way of managing the councils because the current system has completely failed,” Mpesi said.

However, speaking during the launch of the report on Thursday, ECM Director of Social Development Cartsens Mulume said the challenges that are being faced by councils are but a result of corruption which he said is a threat to the country’s development

“ECM will do everything to help change present state of local governance and make Local Government Act and Decentralisation Policy more meaningful to Malawians,” Mulume said.

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