Analysts have said a provisional budget would have been ideal for now considering that there is little time for analysis in light of the forthcoming fresh presidential election next week.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwananvekha last Friday presented the K2 trillion 2020/21 National Budget which has been referred to cluster committees for a week-long analysis, but most members of Parliament(MPs) are not participating due to the ongoing campaign.
University of Malawi’s Chancellor College economics Professor Ben Kalua said in an interview on Tuesday the ongoing cluster committees will not yield much as people are in election mood.
He said: “It would be better if we had a three-month provisional budget to be used this time and then later, another one be presented after the elections. They will not do a proper job in the clusters this time around considering it’s only a few days to the poll.”
On his part, Chancellor College political science lecturer Ernest Thindwa echoed Kalua’s sentiments, saying it is illogical to be discussing the annual budget when an election is just days away.
He said a national budget is a projection of the intentions of the incumbent administration informed by their manifesto.
Said Thindwa: “Assuming the budget is passed and government changes after elections, the citizens will have no basis to hold the new government accountable at least in the first year primarily because the budget the new government will rely on will not be a reflection of its priorities.”
Parliament started meeting in clusters on Monday which normally run for two weeks, but have been allocated only one week this time around to allow MPs analyse the budget vote by vote.
An MP from the Budget and Public Accounts Cluster Committee, who opted for anonymity, said in an interview that the legislators convinced all stakeholders to meet within a day in which they are each given an hour to present their estimates.
But in a separate interview, Budget and Public Accounts Cluster Committee co-chairperson Sosten Gwengwe could not verify the fast-tracking of events due to the campaign, only saying they will go by the Speakers order that the committees meet until Friday.
Gwengwe added that Parliament will use the Mid-Term Budget Review to clear any loopholes in the budget.