Malawi’s forthcoming 2018/19 financial plan, already stressed with elections financing and growing wage bill, faces more pressure from the 2018 Population and Housing Census where Treasury is expected to raise $2.2 million (about K1.6 billion).
Development partners are expected to contribute $7.5 million (K5.5 billion) through cash and non-cash items to the exercise budgeted at $21.5 million (about K15.8 billion).
National Statistical Office (NSO) spokesperson Kingsley Manda, in a written response to a questionnaire yesterday, said government will finance the remaining gap as has always been the case when it bankrolls the census.
He said: “There is a small gap, but (it) will be covered in the financial year [beginning July 1]. Government has been allocating funds for the census every financial year from the preparatory phases and will continue beyond next year.”
Manda said currently NSO is buying tablets and accessories, having completed the census mapping and demarcating enumeration area maps.
The enumeration exercise will start on September 3 and will run for 21 days, he said. Malawi last held a census in 2008.
But while NSO said government has been funding the exercise every financial year, with a small funding gap left to be filled in the next financial year, the financing will still have an impact as fiscal authorities say the proposed K1 trillion budget faces stressful fiscal dynamics due to expenditure pressures in statutory payments and the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
When asked on funding mechanisms in place, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Davis Sado said the line minister Goodall Gondwe will outline such issues in his budget set to be presented in Parliament.
In a published 2018 Economic and Fiscal Policy Statement, Gondwe said despite successfully containing expenditures within annual fiscal targets in the past three years, growth in statutory expenditures, especially the wage bill, interest payments and domestic debts, has undermined budget credibility.
Currently, the country’s fiscal position is under pressure from a weakening domestic revenue collection and high interest rates on the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) loans.
In the Mid-Year Budget Review, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) undercollected.
Development partners funding the census include Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United States Agency for International Development (USAid), Irish Aid and Norway. n