MDAs defying President Chakwera’s directive to disclosure

Board Chairperson of Construction Sector Transparency (CoST) Malawi Programme, Joe Ching’ani has disclosed that only one third of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have managed to upload project information on the Information Platform for Public Infrastructure (IPPI) portal.

Ching’ani said this on Thursday in Blantyre during a training for the media and civil society organisations on the IPPI, noting that the development is defiance to President Lazarus Chakwera’s directive for all MDAs to do so by August 31, 2022.

President Chakwera pose with CoST Malawi members after launching the IPPI portal

“The portal was established to provide an easy platform for MDAs to upload project information for infrastructure contracts but not many MDAs have uploaded so far. On counting, we are estimating that only one third has done so.

“This is a problem because we are denying citizens and stakeholders their right to information. Information is power and we know that resources used for construction of infrastructure come from tax-payers money.”

Ching’ani said it is imperative that institutions carrying out or implementing the projects come forth with basic information like name of contractor, contract budget, scope of the work, who else is involved on the contract, supervisor  and duration of the contract.

“These are basic information and should there be a scenario where a project has been delayed or has even stagnated, the implementers should provide information as to what is happening. That is all we are asking for.

“As for who is to blame, this initiative has a legal backing as it is in tandem with the ATI (Access to Information Act) and Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) Act. These pieces of legislation have provision for punitive measures on non-compliance but it is not incumbent on CoST Programme to take anybody to task, all we are doing is promoting disclosure.

“These are governance institutions out there mandated to take people to task,” he said, adding that CoST Malawi is expected to compile quarterly reports to the Head of State which will show and indicate which MDAs are complying with the directive and who are not.

“The IPPI portal was launched by State President, who is also the CoST Malawi patron and he directed that all MDAs should upload information on the portal.

“So it will be upon the First Citizen, who is the CoST Champion to take the matters up. But as far as our programme is concerned, we are providing a platform for easy disclosure of information to the MDAs.

A quick review of the portal by Malawi News Agency (MANA) shows that only 155 construction projects, 18 rehabilitation projects, nine expansion projects and four replacement projects have been uploaded — despite many MDAs implementing several projects across the country.

The review also discovered that many of the MDAs which have uploaded project information on the portal left out important information like budget breakdown, documents, physical progress and financial progress, among others.

The IPPI system was developed by the National Construction Industry Council (NCIC)/CoST, the infrastructure transparency initiative, acting under a consortium of Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) and the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC)/Integrity Platform (IP). The project is funded by the European Union.

It was developed to increase citizen engagement in the public construction sector and to promote transparency and accountability of public resources. The platform allows for the publication of public infrastructure projects and contract information from the initial stages to completion of the project.

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