Mwaswera Bwanji (Good evening)
I am particularly pleased to be here tonight to address you on this very important topic.
From the perspective of the European Union, the role of the citizen and civil society in general is critically important for the development of any country. Only if final beneficiaries are involved in identifying how their needs shall be addressed, can their needs be truly met. All other attempts will only deliver second best options as they rely on assumptions on behalf of others.
In particular in a context of scarce resources the involvement of citizens is important to ensure that public services and goods are delivered according to planning. In this process it should be the right of citizens, both as final beneficiaries but also as taxpayers, to request information and hold duty bearers to account for the use of public funds. Citizens are in a good position to effectively provide checks and balances at all levels - provided they have the capacity.
The Action Aid project is one of 5 projects we are currently funding with CSOs in Malawi to strengthen demand side accountability, for a total amount of € 2 million. (Allow me here to reassure the Minister that these projects are funded directly with resources from our Head Quarters that come on top of the bilateral envelope co-signed with the Government of Malawi).
For example under a project executed by MEJN various cases of mis-management of public funds have been brought to light. For the construction of a critical bridge to access hospitals and schools in Mulanje the supplier received about MKW 1.5 million to deliver building materials. Although documentation showed that all materials had been delivered, no progress could be seen on the ground and the bridge was still in a provisional state fabricated out of wood. This is just one example but it illustrates the importance that beneficiaries are involved and provide checks and balances.
Today Action Aid will present two interesting studies on citizen participation supported by the European Union. The studies provide insight into various aspects of community participation and accountability structures. Of particular interest I found three main points:
At this stage I once again welcome the work done by Action Aid. I hope the presentations will be followed by vibrant discussions, resulting in actionable recommendations, which this project as well as others can take forward.
To conclude I am pleased to share with you the good news, that the European Union is committed to support Malawi in the area of Public Financial Management. We are currently identifying a new PFM support programme together with the Ministry of Finance, in which among others, procurement and domestic accountability will feature prominently.
I wish you a fruitful discussion.
Good evening to all.
Zikomo kwambiri (thank you)