Malawi scores on budget transparency— report
Malawi has improved in global rankings on budgetary transparency, over the past three years, according to International Budget Partnerships Open Budget Survey of 2015.
The report, the fourth of its kind, is the world’s only independent, comparative, survey of budgetary transparency, citizen participation, and independent oversight institutions in the budgeting process.
Out of 102 countries around the world, Malawi is among those that have risen the most on the Open Budget Index (OBI).
The country OBI index score has increased from 52 in 2012 to 65 this year.
However, Chairperson for Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament, Rhino Chiphiko, has trashed the findings, arguing that the situation on the ground is far from what the indicators are showing.
Speaking when he presented the findings in Lilongwe, Executive Director of Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn), which conducted the research in the country, said there is still a lot more ground to cover.
He said: “This is a strategic step in the right direction in as far as strengthening social accountability and answerability is concerned. A little more needs to be done particularly in providing the public with more opportunities to meaningfully engage in the budget process.”
Kubalasa added that there are still a number of loose ends that need to be tightened if issues such as cashgate are to be dealt with once and for all.
“You will observe that the trends have been changing, the survey finds that legislative research and analytic capacity, as well as quality assurance systems in most national bodies are lacking, severely compromising that ability of oversight institutions to be effective in guarding of the public purse,” said Kubalasa.
But Chiphiko told The Daily Times in an interview that government is not transparent with the budget and therefore, the findings are not a true reflection of the realities on the ground.
“My impression is that the picture looks too good than what is on the ground. I choose to differ. I put the percentage at 15 percent. You cannot say that as a country we have scored 67 percent in doing oversight function.
“You know votes such as those of state residences, OPC and ministry of defence are just passed by the House without debating and as parliamentarians we don’t know if indeed such moneys are used for the intended purposes,” said Chiphiko.
He explained that in most instances budget consultations are done when the budget has already been formulated and printed and therefore, wondered as to where the views from the public go.
The new report examines the current state of budget transparency and how it has changed over time, the degree to which opportunities for public participation in the budget process are present, and the strength of the two formal oversight institutions, the legislature and supreme audit institution.
The 2015 survey is the fifth round of this global assessment, which was first undertaken in 2006.
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