Malawi Government has cut the Local Development Fund (LDF) budget by K5 billion in the next financial year with the fundâ€™s 2011/12 revised budget of around K8.4 billion reduced to only about K3.5 billion in the 2012/13 fiscal year.
The reduction puts at stake several development projects, including construction of primary school classroom blocks and teachersâ€™ houses in the education sector which have largely been funded under LDF.
According to LDFâ€™s budget vote 272 in the 2012/13 output-based budget document number five, the cut has, among others, affected MASAF III budget line for teachersâ€™ houses which was last year allocated more than K1.567 billion, but has received no funds in the next financial year.
It has also affected MASAF rural window budget line, which received more than K2.819 billion in the 2011/12 budget, but has only been allocated K200 million in the next fiscal yearâ€™s budget.
MCP spokesperson on finance Joseph Njovuyalema on Tuesday described the reduction in LDFâ€™s budget as â€œgross anomalyâ€, saying the party will raise the matter later during the budget deliberation process.
â€œItâ€™s a gross anomaly which I intend to raise at committee stage. With devaluation, building materials and other expenses have gone up, including payment for services.
â€œThe education sector will suffer most and a bit of road infrastructure projects in communities. We are talking about construction of classroom blocks and maintenance of roads which are very crucial.
â€œChanges to the budget can only be done at committee of supply stage,â€ said Njovuyalema.
Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga on Thursday said concerns over LDFâ€™s budget vote will be addressed at committee stage.
In the next financial year, government has among others, planned to construct 1 000 teachersâ€™ houses under LDF just like the target for the ending 2011/12 financial year.
It has also planned to construct 100 school infrastructure units less than the 144 units targeted in the 2011/12 fiscal year.
Under the fundâ€™s local authority window, government has planned to reach 220 000 public works beneficiaries through 2 000 public works sub-projects in the 2012/13 financial year.
In his last week budget statement, Lipenga said the total development budget for the education sector in the 2012/13 fiscal year is K10.4 billion.
â€œWith these resources, government intends to construct and rehabilitate over 4 000 primary classroom blocks and teachersâ€™ houses through the Ministry of Education and LDF,â€ said Lipenga.