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Government yet to move on expenditure controls

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Ben Kalua

The Ministry of Finance is yet to implement six expenditure control measures which Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe announced when presenting the 2022-23 National Budget.

Delivering the budget two months ago, Gwengwe said his ministry will, in this fiscal year, implement expenditure control measures which include review benefits and entitlements for senior government officials, including the the President and Cabinet ministers.

Two months into the fiscal year, Gwengwe cannot point out the measures that have been implemented.

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“…the President will announce the measures soon. Very soon,” Gwengwe said in a short WhatsApp response.

This delay in implementing the measures is coming at a time stakeholders are encouraging government to cut on costs.

The delay also comes at a time revenue into the public purse is expected to be dwindling up to 2026, according to Economic Intelligence Unit forecast quoted in the Bridgepath Capital economic performance report of April 2022.

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According to the report, the EIU expects revenue collection to remain subdued on account of a slow recovery in the country’s key sectors including agriculture and tourism and that expenditure will remain elevated, at more than 30 percent of GDP between 2021 and 2026.

Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira said the measures are good but he does not see them being implemented anytime soon.

“We have seen how money is being misused and these measures should have been treated with urgency but I do not see that happening,” he said.

Economics Professor from the University of Malawi Ben Kalua said it is time the government started implementing expenditure control measures; otherwise, the economy will continue suffering.

“The country should tighten expenditure quickly so that at least we match with revenue generation; otherwise, we will continue having a widened deficit which will be forcing us to borrow,” he said.

The overall fiscal deficit for the 2022-23 fiscal year is projected at K884 billion, an increase of 7 percent from a revised fiscal deficit of K825 billion for the 2021-22 fiscal year and represents 7.7 percent of GDP.

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