Vice-President Saulos Chilima says funding and the Covid-19 pandemic have been major setbacks to implementation of public sector reforms in some councils.
The Vice-President said this yesterday after meeting officials from Zomba City and District councils as part of the quarterly meetings on tracking progress of the reforms.
However, Chilima, who is also Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms, said councils have demonstrated commitment to implementing the reforms.
He said: “There is some commendable progress. Funding has been a challenge, Covid-19 has had a fair share of its distraction. But all-in-all, there is commitment.”
Chilima urged the councils to proceed in planning of sustainability reforms and not wait for funding. He said Zomba City Council, for instance, has pulled out of its ambitious project of setting up a business centre due to funding, which is not ideal.
However, he commended both councils on their reforms progress in areas such as financial sustainability, environmental management and planning.
In a separate interview, Zomba City Council Mayor Benson Bulla described the meeting as fruitful.
He said: “We have learnt a thing or two from the Vice-President and we are glad that he has praised some of our projects. We will continue working towards addressing areas that he wants us to improve on.”
Chilima is currently holding quarterly reforms meetings with various parastatals to track progress on how they are fairing.
He began the quarterly review reforms meetings two weeks ago in the Northern Region before going to the Eastern Region.
During his tour yesterday, he expressed satisfaction with progress of several public projects implemented in the Southern Region.
In an interview after inspecting construction works of a 100-bed capacity Domasi Community Hospital; Chancellor College School of Economics and Cobbe Barracks road network and hospital, Chilima said government expects commitment for all projects to complete within their time frame.
He said: “What we have seen is quite impressive and this is what we look for that taxpayers money is used for the right things and not substandard works. From what we have seen the delivery is of high quality. We don’t have concerns on quality.”
Construction of Domasi Community Hospital started in 2012 and was meant to complete in 2015 but was abandoned by the Joyce Banda administration in 2013. However, the Democratic Progressive Party under Peter Mutharika allocated a K4.2 billion fund in the 2014/15 National Budget.
The 45-bed capacity Domasi Community Hospital will have an intensive care unit, maternity, laboratory, theatre, x-ray and a mortuary.
It is expected to help decongest Zomba Central Hospital.
On the other hand, construction works on the K3.5 billion Chancellor College’s School of Economics began on July 1 2019 and was expected to be completed by August 31 2020. However, the completion was revised to November 30 2021 with the same funds provided by the African Development Bank.
Chilima also hailed the Malawi Defence Force for being on track with the 12-kilometre road network project and hospital and made an impromptu visit to Zomba Stadium to appreciate its progress.