Catch the ‘big fish’ in fighting corruption, key donors urge Malawi


Donors operating under Common Approach to Budgetary Support (Cabs) on Wednesday urged the Malawi Government to vigorously pursue corruption cases against ‘big fish’.

Cabs also advised the government to prudently use its money.

German Ambassador Peter Woeste, current chairperson of the Cabs, said in Lilongwe on Wednesday morning that development in Malawi and continued support to the budget depended on continued adherence to underlying principles such as public financial management, human rights and political governance.

“We encourage government being seen to vigorously pursue those who are caught in corrupt practices and not just the little fish but the big ones as well,” said Woeste, observing that Malawi is still among countries where Transparency International finds corruption a serious problem.

Woeste said while the government has planned reforms in the majority of areas of the underlying principles, there has not been “transfer from correct analyses into practice”, noting that development impact would only come about through effective and efficient implementation.

He emphasised on the importance of effective implementation of the Financial Reporting and Oversight Programme and improved independence of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Director of Public Procurement and the National Audit Office and scrutiny of their annual reports by Parliament.

On Malawi holding tripartite elections in 2014, Woeste said while the donor community applauded the decision to hold local government elections, the challenge of holding such elections in a free, fair and well managed manner still arises despite them being an indicator of sustained good governance.

“Tough decisions are also required in order to responsibly set priorities. Apart from the effective implementation of political plans, we see a need for planning to be prioritised and realistically costed,” said Woeste, observing, for example, that implementation of MGDS II and the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) begs for resources more than donor assistance and the Malawi Government budget.

Woeste said in the quest to attain economic growth and eradicate poverty, alliances and partnerships among private sector players and the civil society are crucial.

The donor community, he said, support the tough decisions government has had to take in the last nine months aimed at improving the state of the economy of Malawi.

“The commodity we are most in need of now is confidence, is trust, is reality, is responsibility. It is up to us to create it. Malawi receives budget support, which is our strongest sign of confidence. We underline our full trust in the government that it will pursue its reform agenda,” Woeste said.

On donor inflows, Woeste also said Cabs donors have given Malawi Government over US$600 million between April and December 2012.

“Overall, development partners have supported Malawi with more than US $600 million from the time when the president came into office until the end of 2012. Current financial year grants amount to 30.4 per cent of the budget,” Woeste said.

He observed that some donors who are yet to fully resume budget support to Malawi actually provided emergency budget support and that where it has not been direct support, then grants have been increased by equivalent amounts.

In his remarks, Finance Minister Ken Lipenga said the government was still committed to the fundamental principles on which the Malawi-donors budget support cooperation is hinged.

“I wish to reaffirm our commitment to these principles not only because they are part of the budget support cooperation, but most importantly, because they are enshrined in the Malawi Constitution,” said Lipenga, noting that the IMF review mission recently expressed satisfaction with progress so far.

He said he remains optimistic that the Malawi economy will perform better in 2013 with projected good agricultural production and a stable macroeconomic environment.

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