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Budget impact under scrutiny

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Betchani Tchereni

As Parliament concluded its budget meeting last week, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa lamented that financial plans the country has been implementing in recent years have failed to transform the people’s lives and propel economic growth.

The view has, however, attracted mixed views from the government and economic experts.

Speaking in the chamber before the house adjourned indefinitely last week, Nankhumwa said national budgets the country has been having were falling short of bringing transformation as they were mostly consumption-led.

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According to Nankhumwa, national budgets in Malawi have become some kind of a stand-alone cycle without a well elaborated connection with the people.

“It is a call and an opportunity for all of us, members in this august House, to, perhaps, reflect more on the impact of our work here as representatives of Malawians in relation to budgeting,” he said.

But Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe said pillars in national budgets were speaking to the people’s needs, hence mostly rated as pro-poor.

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“We as government expect alternative views to come from the opposition; so, what we presented is what we believe will take this country forward but if there were alternatives we expected them to come on the floor not in a closing speech,” he said.

Economist from the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences Betchani Tchereni said the formulation of the budget and scrutiny is ideal, but institutional implementation remains one of the areas needing review.

He said the country has institutions such as the Auditor General and Accountant General, whose job is to track how the budget has been implemented to touch people’s lives.

“Parliament might have to look at the institutions that we have. The institutions are already good but if they are failing then it is not the budget but the institutions and, secondly, at midterm budget review, members of Parliament should scrutinise the budget to the fullest,” he said.

Parliament passed the K2.8 trillion budget which Gwengwe said was meant to achieve fiscal consolidation, strengthen public debt management, ensure fiscal discipline and keep Malawi on track towards achieving the Malawi 2063 vision.

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