The Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) has asked government to make the 2015/16 fiscal plan a recovery budget to set the tone for fiscal development in the next few years.
The ECM, comprising the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Catholic Education Commission (CEC), Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (Cadecom) and Catholic Health Commission (CHC), said this in its seven-page analysis which forms its input into the 2015/16 budget.
“The nation is reeling back from the effects of this disaster. It is imperative that the Malawi government in the 2015/16 financial year prioritises mid-term and long-term recovery plans,” says ECM in its national budget proposal co-signed by Chris Chisoni of CCJP, Carsterns Mulume of Cadecom, Bertha Magomero of CHC and Pascal Mtuwana of CEC.
In 2015, Malawi experienced the worst case of flooding which affected 615 837 people, according to the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Mvac).
The death toll from the ravaging floods is estimated at 106 people and 64 000 hectares of land was destroyed with 423 confirmed cases of cholera.
On education sector, ECM says it ‘categorically’ requests government to make sure that the 2015/16 budget is responsive to perennial challenges facing the education sector.
It observes that 40 primary schools were inaccessible due to the floods and that the structures still remain in a dilapidated state as either the roads or bridges connecting these schools were washed away.
“While the teacher- to-pupil ratio is already high in the country, in the flood affected districts the situation is worse as teachers would not be interested to work in such flood-prone areas, thus we would want the Ministry of Education to devise means of motivating teachers in these areas,” requests ECM.
On health sector, the institution says there is need for increased allocation of resources towards infrastructure development and rehabilitation in the health sector, with flood affected areas given priority.
It says while it has been argued that most of the resources in the health sector go towards salaries and other administrative costs, ECM would want the 2015/16 budget to have a special budget towards procurement of medical supplies and drugs.
On development in general, ECM says the damage to infrastructure by floods is insurmountable, noting that bridges have been washed away, roads destroyed, toilets either washed away or sunk, water pipes broken and washed away, boreholes damaged, houses destroyed, livestock lost, crops destroyed, among others.
“It is imperative that the 2015/16 annual budget categorically stipulates resources allocated towards the rehabilitation of the damaged infrastructure.”
Going forward, ECM says it expects and encourages the budget session in Parliament to be robust and that both sides of the House –ruling, opposition and independents-should appreciate the socio-economic challenges that flooding and drought have brought in this country.