K215bn for social spending in 2013/14 Malawi budget – Lipenga

A total of K215 billion has been set aside for social spending in the 2013/14 Budget, representing 47 percent of Recurrent Expenditure, and 15 percent of gross domestic production (GDP), Finance Minister Ken Lipenga disclosed Tuesday.

Addressing journalists in Lilongwe, Lipenga said the high level of social spending showed government’s commitment to cushion the country’s most vulnerable population from the full impacts of policy adjustments made from last year, which he said were in a manner that was supportive to economic growth.

The minister said out of the amount set aside for social spending, Education Ministry gets K102 billion; Farm Input Subsidy programme (Fisp), K54.4 billion; while Health Ministry gets K50.6billion.

Other social expenditures include Local Development Fund K5.9 billion, mainly for construction of teacher’s houses and school blocks and rural health centres, among other things; K1.7 billion for Gender, Children and Social Welfare activities; and K275 million for Disability and Elderly affairs.

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Lipenga says financial discipline must be reinforced

“As Social spending, in this regard, can be defined as government’s provision of benefits to households and individuals, we believe we are doing just that because it is the responsibility of government to provide services to its people to ensure that there is equity,” explained Lipenga.

He added that the 2013/14 National Budget was tailored in such a way that the social spending envelope remained protected even in the event that there was pressure impacting on the budget.

The minister also said government would continue to employ means which would help in reducing the country’s dependency on donor fund.

“While we would like to thank the donor community at every opportunity for their support, we are working on policies that would help us move away from donor dependency,” said Lipenga.

“And we can achieve this by encouraging meaningful production of wealth both as individuals and as a nation,” he said.

Lipenga said government would continue exercising the zero-net-borrowing fiscal anchor and ensure strict financial discipline in order to achieve economic stability in the country.

He also admitted that there were some inefficiencies within the country’s financial management system and that government was striving to curb the tendency to ensure vibrant financial discipline.

“Financial discipline must be reinforced at all cost.”

“There are inefficiencies in the system even on how we use our own resources … inefficiencies that have resulted in reimbursing funds due to audit queries; all these have to be controlled,” he said.

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