Centre for Social Concern project to improve public finance management, reduce corruption

Lilongwe-based Centre for Social Concern (CfSC)= a social and research arm of the Roman Catholic church in Malawi–says corruption and mismanagement of public resources are becoming increasingly widespread in the country and pose a serious challenge to development.

CFSC director James Ngahy
A group photograph

The organization adds that the country has or suffers from various types of corruption–from high level political corruption to petty bribery–that impede service delivery and promote patronage, regionalism and nepotism that exacerbate inequality and poverty.

CFSC director, James Ngahy, said this week in the Capital, Lilongwe, when his organization briefed stakeholders about a project dubbed “Strengthening the Capacity of Citizens to Demand Transparency and Accountability in Public Finance Management for Reduced Poverty and Inequality.

With funding from GIZ–a German development agency, CFSC is implementing the project in order to improve public financial management for reduced inequality and poverty through improved transparency and accountability at all levels.

Ngahy said CFSC strongly believes that active citizen participation in public finance management will enhance transparency and accountability that will lead to reduced poverty and inequality.

“Malawi is a rich country. But the problem is widespread corruption and mismanagement of resources. When citizens are empowered to demand transparency and accountability, things would change for the better. This project will help to unravel some of the reasons why Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the World amidst abundance of resources,” said Ngahy.

The CFSC director added, “For example, we want citizens to be able to follow up what is there for them, what are the resources for a particular project, when is the project starting, who is responsible. All of us, irrespective of our status, pay tax. So when things fail, citizens must question because it is their own money being wasted”.

Ngahy further said it is high time corruption is rooted out in Malawi, emphasizing that it leads to increased inequality and poverty since the elite control resources and they become richer while the poor remain or become poorer.

“Citizens’ lack of knowledge in financial management and their limited capacity to demand transparency and accountability has led to a passive attitude in society. This, therefore, has allowed or given a room to oppressive practices and corruption to be perpetrated by both the government and other duty bearers.

“It is a fact that corruption erodes the trust we have in the public sector to act in our best interests. It also wastes our taxes or rates that have been earmarked for important community projects–meaning we have to put up with poor quality services or infrastructure, or we miss out altogether,” he said.

A Budget Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Joyous Chandiwira, who was the guest of honour, commended CSFC for coming up with the project, saying it will enable citizens to demand exactly what they want from duty bearers.

CFSC, founded in 2002, is a faith based organization that promotes research and action on social issues or issues of concern in Malawi, linking the christian faith and social justice based on the Christian Social Teaching (CST).

The organization aims at transforming the unjust structures in Malawi through research and advocacy so as to ensure sustained change in policies for the betterment of all in line with their human dignity.

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