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Sunday, June 25, 2006

US grants Malawi $20mil to fight corruption

June 25, 2006, By AND

Lilongwe (AND) The governments of Malawi and the United States of America this week launched an ambitious K2.9 billion ($20.9 million) programme that will assist the country to combat corruption and tighten fiscal mismanagement.

Economic Planning and Development Minister David Faiti launched the programme, called Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Threshold program, in Lilongwe, Malawi, alongside United States Ambassador to Malawi Alan Eastham.

Under the programme, which will later see Malawi qualify for a full Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), the US government will provide $20.9 million over a period of two years.

Eastham said the program will help the Malawi government to strengthen institutions responsible for investigating and prosecuting corrupt activities and put systems in place to achieve fiscal management by ensuring accountability and transparency.

“This programme is a threshold of a larger programme that the US government is undertaking around the world. An effective implementation of this program will help the Malawi government to qualify for a much larger and comprehensive program,” said Eastham.

He said money from the Millennium Challenge Threshold programme will also support training of prosecutors, judges, and investigators of corruption for them to effectively deal with corruption cases.

Eastham said the money will also be used to strengthen the National Assembly, the Auditor General, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Malawi Police Service, the Accountant General’s office, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), the National Audit office, the Ministry of Finance and other government institutions.

“This will help to improve the budget process by tightening fiscal management systems, achieve more frequent and professional government audits, and improve management of domestic and international debt, among others,” said Eastham.

He said part of the funds will also be used to improve the investigative reporting of the media as well as civil society organisations as watchdogs against corrupt activities.

In his speech, Faiti said the Malawi government, under the leadership of President Bingu wa Mutharika, qualified for the Millennium Challenge Threshold programme because it has shown a promising track record in issues of good governance and the fight against corruption.

He said the programme will help the government to uproot main sources of corruption and strengthen prudent and sound economic management.

“Government is committed to the elimination of corruption, fraud and fiscal mismanagement as this help to ensure that the limited resources are used effectively to benefit that majority of our people and not into the pockets of a few,” said Faiti.

The Economic Planning Minister said he was optimistic that Malawi will meet targets set under the program and qualify for the Millennium Challenge Account.

Malawi has demonstrated a commitment to undertake policy reforms necessary to improve conditions for development and is close to qualifying for full Millennium Challenge Account,” said Faiti.

US President George W Bush devised the Millennium Challenge Account as measure of US foreign aid from the traditional donations to investment. Under the programme, the US government gives substantial amounts of money up to $200 million to countries that have demonstrated a commitment to better the health and education of their people.

Lilongwe Bureau

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