The Ministry of Finance has said the country’s 2018/19 financial budget will be pegged at K1 trillion.
The budget will be about 23 percent lower or K300 billion below the 2017/18 financial plan.
Secretary to Treasury, Ben Botolo, revealed this in Blantyre, at the start of the 2018/19 prebudget consultation meetings.
Ironically, the reduced budget comes at a time analysts have predicted a jump in fiscal spending as the country heads towards the 2019 Tripartite Election.
Botolo said the 2018/19 budget will mainly focus on youth development.
“The 2018/19 budget will be at K1 trillion or K900 billion and we would like to focus on youth empowerment as already witnessed by the construction of community colleges across the country,” he said.
Botolo said the government has set out the macroeconomic framework for the 2018/19 budget that looks at the microeconomic targets, fiscal and monetary policy measures and debt sustainability targets to be achieved by the end of the fiscal year.
He further said in 2018/19, Capital Hill will pursue national policies that aim at attaining economic growth.
“The guiding blueprint remains the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III,” Botolo said.
On the consultations, Botolo assured delegates that views and observations presented would be compiled and reviewed for consideration.
“However, it mu s t be appreciated that not all the suggestions can be accommodated in the 2018/19 budget, but will remain critical in guiding the Ministry of Finance in the budget process,” he said.
In his contribution, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) Chairperson for Taxation and Economic Issues Committee, Andrew Chioko, said the government should control expenditure by spending based on revenue collected while maintaining equitable collection from taxpayers that is free from harassment and bloated assessment estimates.
Chioko also said the government should set realistic tax collection targets.
He further observed that there is need for infrastructure development, especially in the electricity and water sectors.
“The power problems experienced last year are continuing and, of late, Blantyre is also facing water problems. This has led to reduced production in the manufacturing sector.
“The government needs to seriously look into this in order to improve on production in the country,” Chioko said.
During the mid-year budget review, K9.3 billion was reduced from the initial 2017/18 budget