December 22, 2003

Failed anti-corruption bill angers major donors

The failure by Malawi's parliament to pass a Bill into an Act in order to deter graft has angered the country's donors, who have warned the government that it risks losing the just resumed aid. The British government, the country's chief financier and a former colonising power that funded the review exercise of the current corruption law, has warned that it would influence the donor community to rethink their stand, if Malawi failed to enact the Corrupt Practices Amendment Bill, which stalled in the November-December sitting of parliament.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) froze funding of Malawi's Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PGRF) in December 2000, citing fiscal indiscipline and careless spending by the government. Last month, however, the IMF and the World Bank changed after noting some financial strictness, and re-opened the aid tap, an act which is expected to be emulated by other bilateral and multilateral donors, such as the United States, European Union (EU), Norway, Sweden and Britain.

British High Commissioner to Malawi, Norman Ling, cautioned that if the government did not pass the proposed corruption legislation, which was among the conditions for resumption of aid, external support programmes for the country would be derailed. "We will consider it a breach of promise if they do not pass the Bill, and the government of Malawi will have to explain," said Ling. He also announced that Britain and the IMF, together with other donors, were to review Malawi's progress on financial prudence between January and February 2004, when the issue of corruption will be high on the agenda. (African Church Information Service)


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