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Ministry hypes 2018/19 pre-budget consultations

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The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has asked participants to the pre-budget consultation meetings to take them seriously and change their mentality on the events.

The ministry will from Tuesday this week roll out pre-budget consultations for the 2018/19 financial year in the country’s three regions.

The consultations are an annual event that attracts various participants, ranging from organisations such as Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) civil society groups, academia and the general public a among others.

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The meetings, to be chaired by Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe, will be conducted from March 20 to 24.

However, over the years, stakeholders have complained that contributions made during the consultations are mostly not taken on board.

Ministry of Finance, Publicist, Davis Sado, said, as a ministry, they take the meetings seriously and expect the participants to do the same.

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He said the ministry practise an open budget system, whereby the general populous help in coming up with policy directions.

“This is a serious exercise to all Malawians and we, as a ministry, we consider contributions that have been made. When contributions are made, we look at them and compare with the government policy.

“We refine and finetune the contributions so that they fit into our policies and, at the end of the day, the contributions find their way into the budget in a different form,” Sado said.

He said it is wrong to say that the views by participants are not taken on board.

“This is an important exercise for the government. The government is for the people that is why we bring the budget to the people. We would want to understand where and what taxes they are facing problems with. Issues change and it’s important that all stakeholders participate,” he said.

Last year, one of the country’s economists, Sane Zuka, said the meetings are not necessary.

He said the meetings are a waste of time and resources.

“They do not define budget agenda. The minister has a number of channels through which to get feedback,” he said.

Zuka said the people that patronise the meetings already have access to the minister while farmers who are key to the budget do not have access to such forums.

The aim of the consultations, according to the ministry, is to solicit views, contributions and inputs from all stakeholders in the country.

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