Low patronage at pre-budget meeting in Mzuzu
A majority of people in the Northern Region Friday shunned the pre-budget consultation meeting organised by Ministry of Finance in preparation of 2018/19 National budget.
The ministry had anticipated to have 123 participants, judging by the number of chairs placed at the venue, Mzuzu Sunbird Hotel.
By 11: 34 am, the room had only 34 participants, only seven of them were women.
But speaking in an interview, Secretary to the Treasury, Ben Botolo, said the ministry is not looking much at patronage but soliciting views from people who avail themselves.
“In Blantyre and Lilongwe, many people showed up to our meetings and we appreciated their input. If we could have decided not to do it in Mzuzu, people could have said we have not given them a forum for to present their ideas.
“It is not about the huge number of people attending these meetings but the numbers of people who have ideas to present in contribution to the country’s development. We are happy because we have told them that this budget will focus on youth development,” Botolo argued.
However, many participants who made their contributions said the low turn up at the meeting only symbolizes that such consultative meetings have lost their value because many ideas which are presented are not taken on board.
The participants were not amused with the absence of Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, arguing he should have been available to respond to questions on governments’ failure to implement the projects which were factored in 2017/18 financial year.
“The minister could have responded why government has failed to implement the construction of two major roads of Ekwendeni –Mzalangwe-Mzimba and complete Jenda –Embangweni road. He could have also responded why there is still no progress of Mzuzu Youth Centre, Mzuzu Airport and construction of government offices. These are the developments which we presented last time in the same meeting,” said Martin Kumwenda, a participant.
In his contribution, Church and Society of Livingstionia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP)’s Moses Mkandawire said he suspects people have lost trust in such meetings because of government’s failure to implement the last proposed projects.
“We depend on the national budget because remember that Chinese government asked Malawi government to present big seven projects and five were from South, two in Central Region, excluding the North. Next time, we need such developments because these Chinese projects are not grants, we will all pay using our tax,” Mkandawire said.
Botolo said he has taken into consideration the ideas which have been presented in there three regions.
Pre-budget consultation meetings have been happening for the past 14 years.
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