Malawi has improved on transparency and public access to budget information, jumping 13 steps up the ladder, according to latest findings of Open Budget Survey by the International Budget Partnership (IBP). IBP is a United States (US)-based international non-profit research institute.
Malawi has scored 65 out of 100 in Open Budget Index (OBI) 2015, which means that government was able to provide more information regarding the national budget and financial activity during the last budget season.
The report, the fifth of its kind, examines the three pillars of budget accountability, considering the current state of budget transparency and how it has changed over time; the degree to which opportunities for public participation in the budget process are present and the strength of the two formal oversight institutions, the Legislature and the supreme audit institution.
Reads the report in part: “While richer countries may be more likely to achieve higher levels of budget transparency, middle and low-income countries can achieve highlevels of transparency if the political will exists.
“This is evidenced by the performance of Malawi and Uganda, both low-income countries that nonetheless score highly on the OBI.”
The report said only 24 of the 102 countries covered in the 2015 survey meet the goal of providing sufficient budget information to allow for the discussion and monitoring of budget decisions, as indicated by an OBI score of above 60, with most of the countries scoring highly when they first joined the survey, or since comparable data are available.
“Only nine of these countries have increased the provision of budget information such that they went from providing insufficient information [OBI scores of 60 or lower] to providing sufficient information.
“Four countries, Georgia, Italy, Malawi and the Philippines, crossed the threshold of providing sufficient budget information for the first time in 2015,” reads the report.
On public participation, Malawi scored 44, on oversight by legislature it scored 67 while on oversight by supreme audit institution Malawi scored 42.
DalitsoKubalasa, executive director of Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn), an organisation that tracks performance of budgets, was not immediately available for comment yesterday.
But Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Nations Msowoya, said government is encouraged by the positive endorsement from IBP.
“We started reforming our budgeting processes and presentation since 2009 and we continue to invest our time and effort to make sure that budget documents and presentation are accessible,” he said.