Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe is the centre of focus today as he is set to present the 2017/18 National Budget amid varied expectations from various sectors of the economy.
Gondwe will be presenting the 2017/18 National Budget, officially set to roll out on July 1, at a time the World Bank has provided general budgetary support to the country, three years after the country’s development partners withdrew their direct budget support in the wake of concerns over poor public finance management.
In the previous budgets, Gondwe planned the national expenditure around locally generated resources as donors, who contribute an estimated 40 percent to the recurrent budget, closed their aid taps.
The donors also rechannelled their 85 percent contribution to the development budget to international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and agencies after losing confidence in the Malawi Government Account Number One which some of them described as a leaking bucket.
Several stakeholders gave their input on their dream budget during the Pre-budget Consultation Meetings organised by the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development earlier this year. Tax reviews, incentives and productive spending proposals topped the stakeholders’ wish-list.
Yesterday, The Nation spoke to some players in some key sectors of the economy, including agriculture, health and education on their expectations.
Here are the views:
Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) president Henry Kachaje said the grouping expects a budget that will seek to finance sustainable economic growth and provide adequate expenditure towards targeted infrastructure that supports irrigation farming and also develops the capacity of the agricultural extension service providers to support farmers embrace modern farming methods, including irrigation farming.
Education rights activist Benedicto Kondowe of the Civil Society Education Coalition (Cesc) says one of the pressing issues they expect to be addressed in the budget relates to recruitment of teachers which has been long standing in the education sector.
“It doesn’t make sense for government to be training teachers while at the same time they are failing to employ them,” said Kondowe.
In the health sector, health rights activist Maziko Matemba says government needs to clearly come out on priority areas in the sector where there are serious challenges requiring quick interventions.
He said the budget should make adequate provisions for medical drugs and supplies which have been scarce in most public hospitals.
The Civil Society Agriculture Network (CisaNet) has also weighed in their views, saying there are high expectations that the agricultural sector will stand to benefit more from the 2017/18 budget having always been a big beneficiary.
CisaNet executive director Pamela Kuwali said: “We also hope that the resource allocation within the agriculture sector will be balanced across the current policy/programme priorities with special focus towards investment, for example, in irrigation development.”
United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Ken Ndanga said: “The economy is showing signs of stabilisation, and from there, government must strategise on its growth one of which is to create employment for the many youth who are unemployed, and also ensure protection for the poor and vulnerable, so basically that is what we expect.” n