MHRC budget cut threatens ATI implementation

Reverend Patrick Semphere Chairperson of the Malawi Human Rights Commission
  • Commission needs K166 million, given K20m for ATI

Malawi Human Rights Commission has expressed concern over the reduction of its budget which among others will affect the implementation of the Access to Information Act (ATIA).

The ATI implementation commences this month end and according to the Commission’s chairperson Rev Patrick Semphere, the reduced 2020/2021 allocation does not facilitate fulfillment of the Commission’s goals.

According to the MHRC statement, government has allocated just over K1 billion of which K493.6 million is for personal emoluments and K570.6 million is for ORT.

Under ORT, K437.95 is for generic needs and K40 million is for implementation and oversight of ATI and Gender Equality Acts.

“The current allocation reflects a decrease of 3 percent allocation of overall budget and 5 percent on ORT compared to the 2019/2020 allocation.

“The ideal budget for the Commission for 2020/2021 is K2. 2 billion of which K800 million is for personal emoluments and K1.4 billion is for ORT. It is important to note that the proposed allocation is only 54 percent of the ideal budget for the Commission.

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Members of Parliament will scrutinise allocations to the proposed 2020-2021 budget 

“The ideal ORT requirements were arrived at to adequately meet the Commission’s statutory obligations including overseeing the implementation of ATIA and GEA. This reduction will greatly affect performance of the Commission,” reads the statement.

Semphere stated that out of the K166 million required to operationalise the ATI, only K20 million has been allocated while for the K58 million required for Gender Equality Act, only K20 million has been allocated.

Other areas to be affected by the reduction are investigations into human rights violations as evidenced by increased case backlog, human rights monitoring and due diligence, human rights education gap and accessibility to the Commission’s services by the public.

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Some of the violations MHRC investigates 

He explained that despite the matter being brought to the authorities’ attention, it is a surprise that their concerns have not been reflected in the budget allocation.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the proposed allocation for the Commission in the 2020/2021 national budget falls short of its requirements. This will result in the Commission’s failure to fulfill its mandate and thereby affecting the enjoyment of human rights by Malawians.

“The Commission wishes to appeal to parliament to reconsider this allocation to enable it to meet its constitutional and statutory obligations,” he added.