EU issues fresh corruption warning

 

The European Union (EU) says increasing cases of corruption threaten the grouping’s continued support to Malawi.

In an exit interview in Lilongwe yesterday at the end of his four-year tour of duty, outgoing EU Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann mentioned failure to address loopholes in public procurement systems, delayed implementation of the Political Parties law, delayed review of the laws governing corruption fighting agencies—including the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)—as key factors breeding corruption.

Gerrmann: It will affect donor funding

He warned that the corruption scandals may force EU, which currently is withholding billions in direct budget support, to review its assistance in other areas to Malawi.

Said Gerrmann: “If corruption is not addressed, it is likely going to affect donor funding in future, including that of the European Union.”

Currently, the EU’s main lines of financial support to Malawi include a 560 million euro (about K41 billion) European Development Fund (EDF) XI five-year project (2015-2021).

The fund supports development projects in sectors of agriculture, education and justice delivery through Chilungamo (Justice and Accountability) Programme.

Gerrmann said Malawi faces competition for EU resources from other countries; hence, corruption may affect ability to lobby EU policy makers to continue giving the country financial support.

He said: “There are still challenges in public finance management, especially in procurement.

“If government starts doing things in a transparent and predictable manner, also assuming that macroeconomic stability continues, then we will reach a stage where we will say now we can discuss budget support.

“We also have to understand where we are coming from. As EU, we are investing maybe a 100 to 150 million euro a year in Malawi. And this is a huge investment. We want to continue helping Malawi reach her development goals. But we also want to assure our taxpayers that the government we are supporting can use its own resources efficiently.”

He said to effectively fight corruption, Malawi needs to review the Corrupt Practices Act, improve procurement systems and operationalise the political financing laws and implement the Access to Information law.

In a separate interview, government spokesperson Nicholas Dausi yesterday said government is equally worried by corruption.

He said: “These are also concerns for the government. It’s also government commitment to ensure that corruption is eradicated and procurement is being done by the law. We are working hard to ensure that everything is done within the confines of the law.”

In May this year, Vice-President Saulos Chilima condemned widespread corruption in the public sector. However, State House challenged the second in command to provide evidence and report suspected culprits to ACB.

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