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VAAM Project Trains Ward Councilors and Members of Parliament in Mangochi: Encourages Councils to comply with Pubic Finance Management Laws

Watipaso Mzungu | Jan. 24, 2022, 6:34 a.m.

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) has singled out continued sidelining of ordinary citizens in Public Finance Management (PFM) and procurement of materials for development projects as one of the major contributors to endemic corruption in local councils.

CCJP National Governance Programmes Coordinator, George Chiusiwa, said corruption has reached worrying levels in the country’s councils.

“Corruption is a serious human rights violation and a deterrent to the country’s socioeconomic development,” said Chiusiwa in Mangochi on Wednesday when he made a presentation during a training for councilors and MPs in the Voices and Actions for Accountabilities in Malawi (VAAM) project.

VAAM is a three-year project being financed by Hivos and is being implemented in Blantyre, Dowa, Mangochi, Ntcheu, Mzimba, Mzuzu and Zomba.

Chiusiwa emphasized that the absence of key stakeholders and citizens in PFM and procurement processes breeds a favourable ground for corruption, maladministration and poor accountability in the public service.

PFM aims to improve efficiency, accountability and transparency in public fund use in order to ensure the direct, immediate, substantial and economical delivery of public services, especially to the poor.

Anything less than that, warned Chiusiwa, impedes the successful and adequate provision of public services resulting in poor socio‐economic development and good governance.

“Local councils must be responsive, transparent and accountable in PFM. Adherence to PFM laws is critical. Local authorities receive funding from national budget and public revenue collection systems, yet some PFM processes remain opaque,” he said.

Chiusiwa added that PFM is a central element of a functioning administration, underlying all government activities, as it encompasses the mechanisms through which public resources are collected, allocated, spent and accounted for.

He cited the PFM Act of 2003, which seeks to foster and enhance effective and responsible economic and financial management by the government, including adherence to policy objectives and to provide accompanying accountability arrangements together with compliance with those arrangements.

The Act also requires the government to produce statements of proposed budget policy, confirmation of adherence to fiscal discipline, economic and fiscal statements, including economic and fiscal forecasts and updates, and performance information, including comprehensive financial statements; and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

In his contribution, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Councillor for Nkope Ward in Mangochi, Ali Wilson Muhammad, revealed that officials at Mangochi Municipal Council do not involve ordinary citizens in the formulation and implementation of development projects.

Muhammed further disclosed that even elected officers are not given a chance at Mangochi Municipal Council to participate in the process of budget formulation.

“Our council secretariat has been implementing a number of development projects without involving councillors, MPs and citizens themselves. They are doing literally everything on their own. There is no involvement of the people they serve,” said Muhammad who is also vice chairperson of the council.

Mangochi Nkungulu lawmaker Aisha Adams Mambo shared Muhammad’s concerns, adding that councils in Malawi are acting secretively in their operations, including in the formulation of the budgets.

Mambo – who is also the Second Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly – said this denies citizens their right to outline their development priorities.

Officials that represented Mangochi District Council refused to comment on the matter.

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