On February 18, the Malagasy Ministry of Justice released the Court of Auditors’ first audit report reviewing the financial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Transparency International joins Transparency International - Initiative Madagascar and partners in celebrating the release of this first report, while continuing to call for greater transparency and accountability around COVID-19 funds to ensure the Malagasy people receive the support they need during this pandemic.
The release of the first report comes after pressure from civil society organisations and activists. The Malagasy Court of Auditors was scheduled to release four audit reports of COVID-19 funds as part of its annual report in December 2021. However, the government prevented the court from including them, causing people to decry the government censorship and lack of separation of powers.
This publication is an important first step in understanding the impact of the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is not enough. Transparency International - Initiative Madagascar calls for the immediate publication of the additional three reports directly from the Court of Auditors – and not the ministry that has blocked them. The people of Madagascar deserve an accurate and reliable account of how funding has been used.
The report revealed a number of ways the government mismanaged the pandemic response. This was underscored by an overall lack of legal framework for public financial management in emergency situations that led to confusion of responsibilities and a lack of clear accountability. It is difficult to understand the full extent of what went wrong because of a lack of sufficient paperwork and tracking and the continued use of cash payments. It is clear that the president’s office took control outside their remit and that unverified service providers were hired. Furthermore, the government prioritised resources to fund affiliated providers such as Jiro Sy Rano Malagasy (JIRAMA – the national power and water utility) and the manufacture of the president’s unverified “miracle solution” COVID-organics (CVO).
The public demanded and deserves an urgent response to emergencies, but the need for rapid action does not excuse illegal and unscrupulous management of public money.
Transparency International - Initiative Madagascar and partners call for the following steps to improve management of the COVID-19 pandemic and better prepare Madagascar for future emergencies.
- Operationalize the Emergency Multi-sectoral Plan Steering Committee (PMDU) steering committee: As repeatedly requested by civil society organisations, the committee would have allowed for greater oversight of the response and better prioritisation to support Malagasies in the greatest need.
- Reform the legal framework for emergency response: Law 91-011 on exceptional situations must be updated in addition to new laws that will strengthen and clarify the government’s responses to health emergencies and regulation of related public expenditures.
- Sanctions for infractions: The Public Finance Control Bodies (OCFP) and the courts must further investigate and where applicable prosecute those responsible for the infractions uncovered in the first audit report.
- Civil society involvement: The PMDU steering committee must be revised to involve relevant public stakeholders in determining how to distribute COVID-19 response funds.
- Transparent reporting: There must be transparent and public reporting of funds allocated, especially around the manufacturing of CVO and the efficacy of the companies producing it.
- Adherence to existing regulation: In addition to the new regulations as detailed above, the existing decree establishing the COVID-19 response fund must be more closely adhered to.
Donors must acknowledge that a single report is insufficient and that the government has a responsibility to Malagasies to show its commitment to the rule of law, good governance and the needs of the people.
- Mouvement Rohy
- MSIS Tatao
- Hitsy NGO
- Ivorary NGO
- Ravintsara NGO
- Tolotsoa NGO
- Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar (TI MG)
- SAHA NGO
For any press enquiries, please contact
Transparency International - Initiative Madagascar, [email protected]