The Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Public Infrastructure says it will summon ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) that are not providing information on progress of their infrastructure projects as per the law.
Section 57(3) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) Act, stipulates that all procuring entities carrying out “procurement for works or consultancy services in the construction industry shall disclose all material project information and shall comply with the principles of transparency and accountability at all stages of the project life cycle”.
Underscoring the need for compliance with the law, President Lazarus Chakwera in July last year, directed MDAs to upload their projects on the online portal Information Platform for Public Infrastructure (Ippi) by August 31 2022 or face unspecified action.
In an interview, committee chairperson Enock Phale said it is unfortunate that some MDAs are ignoring the President’s directive, especially on matters that went through Parliament to become laws.
Said Phale: “As Parliament we will summon the non-complying MDAs for an explanation and recommend appropriate action to relevant authorities against such misconduct should we not be satisfied with their explanations.”
A search on the portal shows that 61 out of the 92 MDAs are defying law and the presidential directive.
Some notable MDAs which have not posted anything on the Ippi are Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi, Malawi Housing Corporation and Ministry of Education.
In an interview on Tuesday, Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) Malawi chairperson Joe Ching’ani said his secretariat has done its part by providing the platform to facilitate disclosure of information as required by law.
He said: “The public should not be left to speculate why government institutions are being stingy with project information.”
A study on compliance of the individual public agencies on uploading project data done last year by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) in partnership with the Malawi Human Rights Commission, CoST Malawi and others, found that information for projects from 31 agencies were uploaded on the Ippi portal.
The findings showed that most institutions scored below 50 percent for publishing data sets and only Mzuzu City, Zomba City, and Lilongwe District councils published data sets scoring 62 percent, 57 percent and 54 percent, respectively.
In an interview on Wednesday, CHRR executive director Michael Kaiyatsa observed that it is the same MDAs that are uploading information on the portal.
He pointed out that so far 147 projects have been reported up from 140 when the study findings were disseminated.
Said Kaiyatsa: “The development defeats Chakwera’s commitment towards a transparent, corrupt free and accountable government, apart from violating provisions of the country’s Constitution and the Access to Information Act.”
According to him, what is required is strict law enforcement to punish non- compliance MDAs.
The study also measured compliance to Formal Disclosure Requirements by ranking the institutions and Lilongwe District Council and Mzuzu City Council came first followed by Balaka District Council while the Shire Valley Transformation Project was third.
Office of the President and Cabinet, which has oversight role on all MDAs and the Ministry of Transport and Public Works under which public construction projects fall, did not respond to our inquiries by press time