ActionAid Malawi has blamed the country’s failure to attain meaningful development on lack of budget tracking skills particularly in Local Authorities (LAs).
Experts have argued that because of poor budget monitoring and evaluation, it becomes difficult to know how the approved funds in LAs have been used.
In the 2015/16 National Budget, Treasury allocated K30 billion to LAs for grass roots development.
ActionAid project manager Tionge Kumwenda in an interview last week in Nsanje said most local structures have inadequate and ineffective space to engage in national budget consultation and development processes.
She said due to limited space for dialogue and discussions, LAs are deprived of “effective participation in local policy dialogue and the budget process”.
“There is inadequate technical capacity among civil society organisations [CSOs] and councils to engage in and formulate gender responsive budgets and also limited space for inter-district learning and sharing,” said Kumwenda.
She said as one way of addressing the challenge, ActionAid Malawi is implementing a project dubbed Enhancing Citizen’s Participation in Budget Tracking and Monitoring for Equitable and Sustainable Development in the country’s four districts.
Kumwenda said they have pumped in K438.8 million for the project in Nsanje, Mchinji, Phalombe and Rumphi.
“The project intends to strengthen CSOs and communities’ participation in planning, budget analysis and expenditure tracking for effective public services delivery, strengthen social accountability and oversight capacity of district councils and communities in promoting good governance,” she said.
Kumwenda said at the end of three years, they want district councils’ capacity enhanced to promote accountable and inclusive governance.
She said: “Not only that, we would want increased citizen participation in meaningful policy dialogue to promote transparency and accountability for effective public resource management, capacity building on social accountability, orientation on rules and procedures.”
Nsanje District chief administrative officer Redgson Mkolombwe said the training is welcome, but should not limit budget tracking to councils only.
He said CSOs should also be tracked to ensure prudent use of resources to benefit the targeted population.
In the 2015/16 National Budget, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said in view of the fact that these are early days for LAs to be entrusted with large sums of money, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Treasury will only release the money to councils that have satisfactory accounting systems.