Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament, Sosten Gwengwe, has said their expectation is that government will come up with a realistic budget which matches revenue with needs.
Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha is expected to table the 2019/20 National Budget on Monday.
Gwengwe said national budgets in the past have suffered a common challenge of government’s failure to come up with clear measures to deal with pilferage of funds through fraud and corruption.
He said fraud in the government system was more prevalent in procurement, and failure to deal with these issues renders the budget ineffective.
Gwengwe said: “Government ought to handle the issue of private sector arrears; for example government may owe someone K1 billion and due to arrears, you realise that over the years, the money has accumulated to K7 billion. We need to check on this. We need a budget that deals with unnecessary wastage of hard-earned resources.”
The MCP lawmaker and former Cabinet minister advised government to only focus on key projects, to avoid cost escalations that come due to delayed projects.
“Government loves to pose big; it wants to implement too many projects when resources do not permit. We must target only those we can manage,” he advised.
The Budget Meeting is the second one in the 48th Session of the National Assembly inaugurated in June this year with a presentation of a K511 billion provisional budget currently in use.
Accor-ding to a statement from the National Assembly, after the Finance Minister’s budget presentation on Monday, the House will break into cluster committees for 10 days to allow members to scrutinise the statement.
The cluster system is a new model adopted in 2013 and implemented in the budget meeting in 2014. It gives members a chance to ask government officials questions in line with what has been presented in the budget.
Economists Association of Malawi (Ecama) president Chikumbutso Kalilombe said he hopes the budget will take on board suggestions made from the pre-budget consultations where people asked government development projects that will spur economic growth. to seriously consider financing “We hope the budget will deliberate target projects that can help grow the economy. For example, if government wants to improve tourism, it can target a project or two that help the sector. It could be an issue of value addition to agricultural products…we cannot be talking of widening the tax base when we do not talk about economic growth,” said Kalilombe.
The Ecama president also asked government to live within the means to avoid budget deficit, which leads to unnecessary borrowing.
Malawi’s debt levels have reached worrying levels such that recently the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Dalitso Kabambe advised Treasury to contain the rate of borrowing.