Malawi has scored 27 out of 100 in the 2019 Open Budget Index on budget transparency, meaning that government failed to provide more information on the national budget activity last budget.
The survey was conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) with its national partners in 117 countries worldwide with the Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) assessing the Malawi situation.
The report, the seventh of its kind, examined three pillars of budget accountability, namely transparency, public participation in the budget process and the strength of the two formal oversight institutions—the Legislature and the audit institutions.
Besides ranking Malawi 27th on transparency, the survey also ranked the country 15 out of 100 in terms of public participation during the pre-budget consultations.
However, Malawi improved in terms of budget oversight by Parliament and audit institutions, ranking 54 out of 100.
The report comes at a time when concerned stakeholders and the citizenry at large are demanding transparency and accountability in the utilisation of public resources ,especially now with huge demand of Covid-19 pandemic response.
IBP executive director Warren Krafchik said while the Covid-19 crisis demands swift and decisive action, it nevertheless requires honesty, transparency, engagement and, in the end, public trust—the objectives that drive the Open Budget Survey (OBS).
In 2018, Malawi was ranked 26 out of 100 which is a major fall from 65 percent scored in 2015. This is an indication that government is sliding back on transparency and accountability in budget processes to its taxpayers.
In an interview, Mejn acting executive director Kelvin Chirwa, who was involved in data collection for the survey, expressed worry that government is failing to learn by complying with annual recommendations to improve on the index just like other nations in the region.
He said: “As a country we are failing to learn because the issues that are rising from OBS have been almost the same every two years. We can connect to current Covid-19 that things are happening, funds being spent but nobody knows what is happening.
“Information on uses of public resources is in the confine of a few people and that goes a long way to disturb the way we implement