Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) and National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) lobbied for implementation of the stalled Access To Information (ATI) Act to ensure transparency in the award of contracts in the construction industry.
NCIC director of enforcement Gerald Khonje said in an interview that it was unfortunate that procuring and disposing entities (PDEs) in the public sector do not provide information despite having a Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) Act in place.
He said the ATI is critical in this aspect.
Said Khonje: “Disclosure trends have remained low. This can be attributed to the absence of mandatory requirements to disclose beyond the award notices before the enactment of the PPDA Act.
“With the new PPDA, continuous disclosure has become a requirement; hence, MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] have an obligation to disclose. As can be noted from the assurance report, reactive disclosure is higher than proactive disclosure.”
He was reacting to the CoST 2019 Assurance Report which has faulted the procuring entities for giving taxpayers a raw deal by withholding information.
The report highlights that disclosure of project information by PDEs is low from the 58 data points sampled.
Reads the report in part: “Proactive disclosure varies from eight to 11 percent across all PDEs in this study. This level of compliance needs improvement.
“Reactive disclosure had 26 data points required for disclosure. Compliance was a high of 45 percent and a low of 13 percent per institution.”
In an interview yesterday, CoST programme manager Lyford Gideon said it was strange that through the national budget government allocates huge sums of money for construction projects yet the information relating to the projects is kept under wraps.
He said: “Nondisclosure of information on public projects by agencies and departments denies Malawians [the taxpayers and beneficiaries of such projects] a right to participate in the governance of those projects.”
Gideon also pushed for the implementation of ATI law, to enhance transparency.
The report notes that the Kamuzu Barrage Rehabilitation Project at Liwonde in Machinga, implemented under the Shire River Basin Management Project by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, was the only project with information on its website pertaining to project identification and preparation phase, making it to have the highest percentage proactive disclosure at 11percent.
Malawi has placed emphasis on infrastructure development as a key element of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy. Between 1990 and 2015, investment in this sector averaged 5.5 percent of gross domestic product.
Implementation of the ATI Act has stalled since President Peter Mutharika signed it into law in February 2017. Cabinet approved a Policy on ATI in January 2014 and Parliament passed the ATI Bill in December 2016.