Ministry of Finance has challenged the media to be vigilant in budget tracking to ensure that money approved in Parliament is used for the intended purpose.
The ministry’s assistant budget director Precious Chimbamba said in an interview on Monday on the sidelines of media training on national budget reporting organised by the Parliament of Malawi with support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
He said that overall, little is reported on budget expenditure after the national budget is passed, which leaves taxpayers in the dark on the impact of the budget on people’s lives.
Said Chimbamba: “The media has interest in the smallest part of the whole budget process, especially the parliamentary budget deliberations.
“But when the budget is in Parliament, it means the budget process has just begun.”
He, however, said tracking the budget to ensure that it achieves what was intended is a bigger role that is oftentimes not covered, resulting in taxpayers not being well informed.
Chimbamba advised the media to work closely with Treasury and all concerned government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to track budget expenditures by pointing out successes and failures.
One of the training facilitators, Bright Sonani, challenged the media to go beyond mere ministerial budget statement to analyse budget documents where actual allocations are embedded.
Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye said the training was organised to build the capacity of the media to ensure accurate and in-depth reporting on budgetary matters.
“We appreciate the greater role the media is playing in bringing Parliament closer to the people through budget reporting,” he said.
Currently, legislators have gone into clusters to scrutinise the K2.2 trillion 2020/21 National Budget for two weeks to analyse figures, recommend increases or cuts in allocations to MDAs.
The training was initiated after Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu presented the budget on Friday at Parliament in Lilongwe.
The K2.2 trillion budget represents 30.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).