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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Malawi yet to rip from MCA
by Arthur Chipenda, Malawi News Agency, 03 February 2006 - 06:59:49

Malawi is yet to start implementing the K2.7 billion (US$20.9 million) American government sponsored project to fight corruption and improve fiscal management. The American government, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), approved Malawi’s two-year threshold country plan on September 23, 2005.The deal would help Malawi to demonstrate its commitment to reform before qualifying for a full Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). The MCC designed a Threshold Country Programme to assist countries that had not yet met the requirements for the MCA eligibility but were committed to undertake measures to reform their political, economic and social policies that promote economic growth. The Economic Planning and Development Ministry, which is Malawi government’s coordinating department of the initiative, has projected that the country might begin implementing activities under the programme in the coming three to six months. “Implementation of the programme will depend on how fast the American government sets out the mechanism for executing the programme,” the Ministry’s monitoring and Evaluation Director, Ben Botolo, told Mana. Botolo said the American government was presently in the process of identifying an organisation that should be implementing the programme on its behalf, adding that the process might take some time before the implementing firm got set for the programme to start.Public Affairs Officer for the American Embassy in Malawi, Mitchell Moss, however, said recently that programme activities for the country’s Millennium Challenge Threshold Plan would commence in the next 90 days. “Implementation process has already started and Usaid (United States Agency for International Development) is in the final stages of the procurement process for Malawi’s programme,” Moss said.The Malawi government has proposed a total of 14 specific activities that it would undertake in the coming two years of implementing the threshold plan. The government has committed itself to procure and fully deploy an Integrated Financial Management Information System, improve fiscal management by passing and implementing Anti-Money Laundering legislation, and also develop and pass a Declaration of Assets Law to ensure transparency among public officials.As part of implementing the programme, the government will also facilitate creation of a media council to promote press freedom as well as train journalists to report and analyse issues related to corruption, economic governance and financial management, among other things. Building the country’s prosecutorial abilities in the Department of Public Prosecutions, the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Malawi Police Service are other major government commitments for the coming two years. Malawi was among 70 countries that the MCC identified as candidates for the MCA in 2005 after it selected 16 other countries for the programme in 2004. The American government set up the MCC to provide poor countries with financial assistance to reinforce good governance, economic freedom and investments in people who promote economic growth and eliminate extreme poverty.

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