US News Madagascar: a report pinpoints many problems in the management of Covid-19 funds

05:05  30 october  2020
05:05  30 october  2020 Source:   rfi.fr

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Around ten reports of embezzlement related to Covid funds collected by the State have already been sent to the Independent Anti-Corruption Office. Their numbers are expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks. In a still confidential study, carried out by a coalition of civil society organizations working on the transparency of funds allocated to fight the pandemic, a whole series of dysfunctions, shortcomings and elements disturbing by their opacity are listed. This study, which RFI was able to obtain exclusively, should be published within a few weeks.

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With our correspondent in Antananarivo,

First, the report points to a known fact that is still surprising: the plethora of organizations created to coordinate the fight against the virus (the Covid-19 Operational Command Center, the 22 Regional Covid-19 operational command centers, the 1428 Loharano Committees, etc.).

Most of the roles and responsibilities of these devices are still unclear today, without any legal or regulatory text having been drafted. However, the report notes, structures planned for this kind of crisis were already in existence before the epidemic, such as the National Coordination Committee against major epidemics.

Then, it is these more than $ 716 million in donations and loans that have been allocated by donors to the State to fight the epidemic that raise questions. Today, most Covid-19 spending remains untraceable; For its part, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which should in accordance with the decree adopted in July publish a monthly report on the details of the use of these funds, has never yet done this task.

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Faced with this most opaque situation, donors continue to allocate funds to the Malagasy state and to make disbursements. "We are rated on our ability to disburse," says one of these major funders. “This system is aberrant, as we know. These are millions of dollars of small Western taxpayers going into the pockets of the country's corrupt rulers. And everyone closes their eyes. To each their own business and their own objectives. »

In addition, this year, the cumulative amount of sums spent in the context of contracts awarded by mutual agreement has exploded compared to the 3 previous years. "These procedures are legal, in this context of a state of emergency," said a representative of civil society and specialist in these issues. “However, we know very well that this type of procurement promotes nepotism and increases the risks of corruption and collusion. "Civil society had also proposed to launch calls for tenders online, simplified with shortened deadlines to respect the game of competition. But this recommendation was not accepted by the powers that be.

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Drug shortage

The report also underlines that the multisectoral emergency plan (PMDU) set up by the government has given priority to the economic aspect and in particular to the achievement of the "Velirano", these presidential promises hammered home by the head of the State since its campaign in 2018, in relation to the health component. Health only represents 9.37% of funding against 35% for infrastructure.

The study also recalls the shortages of medicines and protective equipment experienced at the height of the peak, especially for healthcare workers, even as donations of equipment poured in. At the same time, the investigation continues, drugs prescribed to treat Covid and not found in hospitals were experiencing an extraordinary boom on the Malagasy black market.

Finally, contrary to the provisions of the texts in force since July 2020 (such as the PMDU), all the control and anti-corruption bodies (Steering Committee, Advisory Committee, Joint Anti-Corruption Unit, Watch Unit, etc.) to ensure to the proper use of funds, have never been put in place.

And next week, a large-scale investigation across the country is set to start. Transparency International - Initiative Madagascar wishes to measure the perception of corruption by the population, in this particular period of pandemic.

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This is interesting!