Prevailing mismatches between economic development plans and implementation have been singled out as a major setback for Malawi’s growth strides.
This is contained in the Malawi National Human Development Report issued on Wednesday, which has also exposed glaring poverty levels in the country coupled with ever widening inequalities.
According to the Human Development Index report, which is released at least every five years, Malawi formulates sound policies and strategies for meeting socio-economic development goals but lacks the ability to implement them.
The trend is attributed to, among other factors, inadequate financial resources to support implementation due to limited fiscal space, weak coordination of programmes and projects, natural disasters and an unstable macroeconomic environment characterised by high inflation and interest rates.
It singles out the Vision 2020—Malawi’s failed long-term national development blueprint—which within 20 years of its implementation, could not lift the majority of Malawians out of the poverty trap.
“Lessons from the recent review of the Vision 2020 indicate that this has largely not been implemented. Further, monitoring is often limited and ineffective, compliance is low, and the structures necessary for providing guidance and procedures are not in place,” the report reads.
The fragility of Malawi’s economy due to its dependence on rain-fed agriculture has contributed to the limited achievement of sustainable economic growth and development according to the report.
These have negatively affected the country’s ability to sustain high levels of economic growth, let alone improving living standards of citizens.
In an interview yesterday, University of Malawi Economics Professor Ben Kalua cited lack of political will and resource constraints among contributing factors.
“There is always so much on the recurrent budget. All the budgets have had the development aspect not fulfilled, piling pressure on the development agenda,” Kalua said.
For instance, in the 2022-23 K2.84 trillion budget, recurrent expenses were pegged at K2.019 trillion, or 17.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), while development expenditure has been programmed at a meager K820.67 billion, representing 7.2 percent of GDP.
The National Planning Commission (NPC) is mandated to develop long and medium-term national development plans for Malawi and also oversees implementation of the same.
In an interview, NPC Communications Specialist Thom Khanje said framers of the current long-term development blueprint, the Malawi 2063, drew lessons from experiences and crafted enablers to help avert repetition of mistakes.
“Indeed, Malawi has been known for coming up with plans but are not able to implement them. However, going forward, in line with the Malawi 2063, we have changed the approach of doing things.
“Even on funding [for development projects], the Malawi 2063 clearly spells out that we cannot only be dependent on government resources for national development. There is no economy that has been built by the government resources alone. That is where the private sector is coming in,” Khanje said.