President Peter Mutharika’s silent anti-corruption fight has been injected a dose of life with budget allocation analysis, indicating a bumpy return for several governance institutions and the Judiciary.
Chief among the beneficiaries of the increased allocations to the sector is the office of AntiCorruption Bureau (ACB), which has seen its budget doubled to allow recruitment of more staff and boast its operations.
Equally enjoying more robust financial state, thanks to Friday’s budget presentation by Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe, are the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Directorate of Assets Declaration and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
Other institutions that have had their allocations increased include the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), National Audit Office (NAO), Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and the Judiciary.
Speaking during his Budget presentation in Parliament, Gondwe said the increased funding was a direct response of criticism of the previous allocations.
Said Gondwe: “The House will note that in response to the criticism of the mid-term revised budget, governance institutions such as the ACB, the Directorate of Prosecutions, the Ombudsman, the Legal Aid Bureau and the Asset Declaration Department, have benefited from large budgetary increases within their ORT budgetary lines.
These will help them to operate unretarded by lack of funds.” In an interview yesterday, Justice Minister and Constitutional Affairs Minister Samuel Tembenu said the allocations were a sign that government was walking the talk in the fight against corruption.
ACB deputy Director Reyneck Matemba welcomed the doubling of the institution’s ORT from K2 billion to K4 billion as timely boast to its operations, citing that the additional war chest, among others, will aid ACB to purse foreign investigations which have stalled.
“The bureau will also use part of the funding to train the newly recruited investigators in a number of areas, including forensic investigations,” said Matemba.
DPP Mary Kachale said the Directorate of Public Prosecutions will use the funds for asset forfeiture of convicts of financial crimes such as Cashgate.
“However, the past two financial years, 2015/16, and 2016/17, have served to show us where our challenges were in delivering meaningful results in the area of asset forfeiture. Consequently, when Government, through the Ministry of Finance, asked us what our challenges were and asked us where the provision of additional funds could significantly improve our service delivery in areas that the public were keen to see results in, we as a Directorate prioritised the area of Asset Forfeiture, among others,” said Kachale.
Director of Assets Declaration Chris Tukula, on Friday signalled that the projected figures for his institution were also closer to the office’s demands and said the allocations will allow it to vigorously carry out its mandate, including verification of declarations by top government officials, the presidency and Cabinet.