Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe yesterday added humour to pre-budget consultations when he dared renowned economist Henry Kachaje to join politics to appreciate external forces that affect implementation of policies.
In his presentation titled Financing, Transformation and Productivity during the Blantyre leg of the Ministry of Finance’s Pre-Budget Consultations, Kachaje, who is president of Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama), said there is need for evidence-based policy making, planning and budgeting.
He called for the need to learn from what works and what does not and use such lessons to sustain or abandon or even develop new programmes instead of having programmes merely for political expediency.
Said Kachaje: “The budget should help government answer the question: Is everything that is in the national budget needed to be there? Can we take out things that can best be handled by other stakeholders such as private sector, communities and civil society?
“The budget must introduce radical reforms that can enhance prudent public financial management that will culminate into sealing off leakages and discouraging public waste.”
The Ecama president proposed a critical review and redesigning of the capital expenditure budget, including entitlements for the kind and size of vehicles public servants can purchase.
He said: “Our economy is a bicycle economy. It cannot accommodate all people’s needs. Let us try to spend within our means… Let us move from starting too many projects and failing to complete them as we spread ourselves too thin.”
But in his response, Gondwe said while he agreed with Ecama’s proposal, it was important for industry captains and critics to appreciate that realistically some of the issues cannot be achieved.
Said the minister: “It may be interesting to know that in as much as these ideas may seem practical on paper, it is very difficult to implement them on the ground.
“I challenge you Mr Kachaje to join politics since you already said that you are going into politics. Once you join politics, you will realise that it is really difficult to execute the plans you had when entering into politics.
“Serving people is no easy task. There are a lot of things in between that you need to address. In most cases, you will find that what your are planning of doing for the people is actually different from what the people themselves are thinking.”