Chikaonda backs Malawi zero-aid budget: ‘The best we can do’

Prominent economist Professor Mathews Chikaonda, the group chief executive officer of Press Corporation Limited (PCL), has backed government zero-aid budget, saying the financial plan delivered by Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is an ideal package for the country.

Gondwe on Tuesday unpacked the 2014/15 National Budget worth K742 billion, which does not include budgetary support from donors with a deficit of K107 billion

Donors have not committed their support to the budget due to the looting and plunder of public resources at Capital Hill in Lilongwe  christened as ‘Cashgate’ originating from 2005 but exposed  after a whooping K13.6 billion was siphoned out in just six months in 2013.

Chikaonda; Without external support, zero-aid budget is necessary

Chikaonda; Without external support, zero-aid budget is necessary

Commenting on the 2014/15 financial plan, Chikaonda said the zero-aid budget is necessary under these circumstances.

“We have sometimes formulated budgets on assumptions that we will get donor funds, but that has not worked because that money for one reason or the other is never disbursed,” Chikaonda, former finance minister who also served as Reserve Bank of Malawi governor, said as quoted by official news agency Mana.

“Now government is saying we have no external support, let’s manage our own resources. That’s the best we can do as a country. Do we have a choice? I don’t think so.”

In his budget statement, Gondwe did not clearly explain where revenue will be sourced but Chikaonda said it was no cause for concern.

“If you make your calculations very well on how revenue is to be collected, you will notice that the deficit is only a K100 billion and that can be sorted out by the Reserve Bank of Malawi. The question now is not what government will do about the figures, rather, what will everybody do about the budget?” Chikaonda challenged.

Chikaonda, famous for a 10 point plan during the time he was finance minister, heads High Level Development Council which was established by former president Joyce Banda.

The comprises 24 members which include Abdul Gaffar Jakhura, Blessings Chinsinga, Paramount Chief Kyungu, Dr Charles Mwansambo, Sam Kakhobwe, Dr Bruce Munthali, Professor Richard Mkandawire and Reverend Patrick Semphere.

But Gondwe said the fate of the multi-sectoral body, formed on January 9 2014, to deliberate and advice on national social and economic development lies with the new President.

He said the council has no legal mandate, therefore its fate lies with the policy of the incumbent.

The mandate of the Council is to take a broad, cross-cutting, independent and critical view of Malawi’s development needs, to help define the Malawi that we seek to achieve over the next 50 years; prescribe the necessary and sufficient conditions for achieving the desired outcomes; and clearly outline the path and implementation; monitoring and evaluation strategies to achieve those objectives and the aspirations of Malawians.

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