Parliament Pass 2023/2024 Budget, Experts Doubts its Efficiency
After 18 days of debate, parliament on Thursday passed the 2023/2024 national budget which is pegged at K3.788 trillion.
The budget was passed after legislators confirmed and accepted all the 58 votes, a day before the start of the start of 2023/2024 financial year, on 1st April 2023.
Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe admits the 2023/2024 national budget was one of the toughest to put together following the effects of Cyclone Freddy that hit Malawi but they are optimistic it will help develop the country.
“It hasn’t really been an easier journey but I am happy that the members of parliament have shown resilience and have been able to debate under the circumstances and provided the much-needed wisdom that the treasury and the ministry need as we look into the execution of the national budget,” said Gwengwe.
Gwengwe further said the 2023/2024 national budget will mainly focus on infrastructure maintenance following the effects of Cyclone Freddy to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed by the cyclone, while acknowledging that it will not be easy to rebuild within one year things that the country worked on to build for many years.
“There have been a lot more resources channeled towards maintenance, the roads authority will be a little bit busy; as a country we cannot just wait for partners to mobilize resources for us, sometimes there is a lag as we are waiting.
“We need to start on our own in this budget, that’s why we have allocated K49 billion to the roads authority from their initial K9 billion allocation,” he said.
Commenting after the budget was passed, chairperson for budget and finance committee Gladys Ganda said despite the challenges that were there during the budget debate, she described the debate as fair.
However, Ganda said there are some areas that the committee would like to ensure that there are changes, for instance the allocation of funds for water projects in all constituencies to the ministry of water.
“There is misallocation of the funds, the councils themselves should manage these funds, there is a proper fund that is used for that funding in the councils. Yes, we have approved it under ministry and eventually it will go to the councils.”
Leader of the house Richard Chimwendo Banda commended the legislators for working tirelessly and successfully passing the budget. It's a tough time for Malawians but honestly this is a good budget for Malawians as it is aiming at providing service to people.
Governance expert Victor Chipofya said the key issues that the Tonse government promised was job creation, ending and fighting corruption, ending nepotism and making Malawi good for everyone and he doubts if the budget will be able to address that.
“The question is how much has been allocated towards the Anti-Corruption Bureau to fight corruption, and how much has been put towards job creation. Let’s wait and see how this budget will be accomplished and where the government will get the money to support the budget.
While economist Hopkins Kawaye has commended the initiatives to increase the budgetary allocation to the Roads Authority considering the state of the roads in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddie.
"Some bridges have been washed away and many roads with several deep potholes. Roads facilitate trade, trades contribute to economic growth and development," said Kawaye.
The 2023/ 2024 budget was revised from K3.88 trillion to K3.7 trillion to mitigate the effects of Tropical Cyclone Freddy.