CHRR, YAS question secrecy over Coronavirus spending

Human rights groups have demanded the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) to provide information regarding the procurement of COVID-19 materials, saying there is secrecy over expenditure of Coronavirus funds.

The demand is contained in a letter signed by Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Acting Executive Director Michael Kaiyatsa and Youth and Society (YAS) Executive Director Charles Kajoloweka dated June 10 and addressed to the PPDA.

The organisations said donors and other well-wishers have provided billions of kwachas to the Malawi government to assist in fighting the global COVID-19 pandemic.

They, however, expressed concerned about the secrecy surrounding the spending of these resources.

“We are particularly concerned by the lack of reporting and publication of expenditure of COVID-19 resources.

“We note that the absence of transparency in the expenditure poses a significant corruption risk and undermines the constitutional requirement that procurement be done in accordance with a system which is transparent,” the organisations said.

They also noted that PDDA waived some requirements to facilitate swift procurement of supplies to fight the Covid-19.

The move means Covid-19 related items would no longer be procured through requests for quotations and would also not be procured through restricted tendering.

The public was further informed that considering the urgency of the requirements, the tendering process would be shortened to a minimum of 24 hours to ensure that a tender is uploaded on the website and that not much time is wasted in the procurement of COVID-19 related materials, which include personal protective equipment (PPE) to be supplied to all health facilities and other strategic places.

PPDA also told Malawians that the open tendering process would be open to members of the public and necessary information would be published both on the websites of both the PPDA and the procuring entity.

“CHRR and YAS are, however, disappointed to note that up to now such information is not being published on the PPDA website or on any of the procuring entities website,” the rights groups said.

Malawi has so far recorded 481 cases of the coronavirus and there have been 65 recoveries.