Public coffers shut from political party financing-Chakwera

President Lazarus Chakwera at Parliament

President Lazarus Chakwera says the Tonse Alliance government has successfully shut government coffers tight against corrupt acts of using public resources in funding political party functions.

Speaking during the opening of the 2021-2022 budget meeting of the National Assembly, he reiterated his administration’s resolve to the anti-corruption drive through stronger internal controls and consequential regulatory systems.

The President indicated he will focus a significant portion of the fight against corruption on strengthening internal controls within all Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDA)’s to check the abuse of public resources.

He disclosed that weak and compromised controlling officers aggravate the mismanagement of public funds.

“When I summoned the controlling officers of MDAs to account for the use of Covid-19 funds from last year, it was apparent that one of the main factors contributing to the theft of public funds in this country is controlling officers who are either too weak or too negligent or too compromised to hold public servants accountable for their use of public funds.

“My Administration will therefore focus a significant portion of its fight against corruption on strengthening internal controls in all MDAs. So far, we have already successfully shut government coffers tight to members of governing political parties who wish to continue the previous regime’s corrupt practice of using public funds to finance political party functions,” revealed the President.

He indicated the next step is to strengthen internal controls to stop the siphoning of public funds by unscrupulous civil servants through dubious allowances and expenses.

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Vice President Saulos Chilima with the Information Minister Gospel Kazako

Chakwera stated the malpractice extends to stop greedy private sector players from stealing public funds through procurement monopolies and inflated prices.

He was upbeat the house will insist on the priority of strengthening internal controls within MDAs to be reflected in its budgetary considerations.

The President maintained his stance that he has no interest in keeping in Cabinet individuals who neglect, weaken or exploit the internal controls designed to stop corruption dead in its tracks within their institutions.

“Regardless of which party in the Tonse Alliance a member of the Executive belongs to, if I am not satisfied with their stewardship of the interests of Malawians, I will replace them because by the end of the day they all answer to me. Additionally, Madam Speaker, I will soon be receiving recommendations from the Taskforce I delegated the Vice-President to lead in proposing a new structure for the Civil Service with stronger internal controls for service contracts, procurement procedures, and allowances,” he said.

Without strong and brave leaders at the helm of oversight and law enforcement bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) and National Audit Office (NAO) among others, he observed the country’s declaration of war against corruption will remain cosmetic.

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The First Lady Monica (L) and Mary Chilima captured inside the house

On cushioning measures towards the global pandemic, he cited the COVID-19 Urban Cash Intervention targeting the four cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu which targeted approximately 160,000 households between January and April 2021.

He said the initiative cushioned those who depend on a daily wage or petty trading to survive.

For the sake of sustainability, he disclosed that the social protection measures will have graduation type interventions.

Chakwera indicated this was done with the aim of pursing the reform of shock sensitive social protection system so that, over time, the need for year-on-year emergency response is reduced.

Government will also be scaling up the electronic payment system used for social protection programmes to ease transactions and cut out fraud.

Preliminary agricultural production estimates indicate this year’s maize production increased by 18.3 percent over last year’s production from 3.8 million metric tonnes in 2019/2020 season to over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the 2020/2021 season.

The 2020/2021 production level is 42.6 percent above a five-year average of 3.1 million metric tonnes.

The President stated this is more than sufficient for domestic consumption and a projected a surplus of 1 million metric tonnes over the country’s estimated consumption.

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Chakwera signs the visitors book as Speaker Catherine Gotani-Hara watches. Pics by Lisa Kadango Malawi News Agency (MANA)

He however cautioned the feat should not give room for complacency as the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) is being conducted to identify areas of low yields to ensure those who may be food insecure in the 2020/21 lean season are supported by government.

However an estimated 2.6 million people would be food insecure in the 2020/21 lean season and government, with support from partners provided relief items to the affected households.