Malawi opposition have labelled the proposed 2015/16 National Budget presented by Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe as an illegal document because it violates the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act and not backed by any current economic and fiscal policy.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesman of finance, Dowa West MP Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi and Mangochi Monkey Bay MP and People’s Party (PP) spokesperson on finance in Parliament, Ralph Jooma unanimously called the budget document illegal.
Jooma said the 2015/16 national budget does not indicate how much is being funded to each vote.
“In the past, we used to have a column for preliminary out turns. I am talking about the time, we, PP were ruling. Why is this column hidden?” wondered Jooma former Economic Planning Minister.
Jooma also noted that in the presentation of the budget, Finance Minister said nothing about the progress of the public finance management reforms.
“Would the Minister tell the nation, exactly where the negotiations with donors are? What else is supposed to be done to unlock the aid? Could it be that perhaps donors are looking for an audit of the K92 billion Cash-gate? (From 2005 to 2012.)
“Government should move on this issue. Otherwise budgets will continue to be made under challenging circumstances except that it will not be by accident, but by choice.”
Jooma noted that the Budget was prepared “under very difficult circumstances” of the steady nose-diving of donor support.
“But that notwithstanding, here we are discussing a K901 billion budget. The largest budget of all the years with a 21 per cent nominal increment over last year’s approved budget. In fact, with average inflation being at 16 per cent, we can safely conclude that the budget has a real value increment of over 5 per cent.
“Although the Minister has chosen to relate it to the GDP value, we have chosen to relate it to inflation because that is what drives prices of goods and services. So, what we are saying is that this budget should have produced more output than last year’s if, and only if our priorities are right,” said Jooma.
He continued: “If only fairness, equity and objectivity were at play during the allocations, this budget would have given hope not only to the end beneficiaries but also to its implementers.”
First to give a reaction after a two-week Parliament recess, MCP’s Dzonzi laid out seven recommendations which the party wants Finance Minister to address.
“This budget is illegal because it has not been deployed within the legal framework as set out in sections 14, 15, 18 and 19 of the Public Finance Act. We strongly recommend that the minister must adhere to the spirit of the laws that govern budgeting processes,” Dzonzi said.
He had earlier highlighted Section 14 of the Public Finance Management Act which states that the Minister of Finance shall submit to the national assembly and publish, not later than April 1 of each year, an economic fiscal policy statement which shall specify the needful.
On Section 15, Dzonzi said the minister shall lay before the National Assembly a written budget policy statement.
“Mr Speaker Sir, my reading of the annual budget and my recollection of all preceding events hitherto clearly show that the Honourable Minister of Finance has not and has never laid before this august House an Economic and Fiscal Policy that speaks to Malawians as to which direction our economy is going to take as required by Section 14 of the Public Finance Management Act.
“Going through the draft Financial Estimates tabled before this House, it is clear that the Minister of Finance has neither provided the economic and fiscal policies that underlie the present budget nor any policy objectives to be addressed by the budget in the 2015/2016 fiscal year,” Dzonzi said.
He also stressed the need for Gondwe to go back to the drawing board to match expenditure items with Malawi’s core economic requirements and the need for government to handle tendering processes of the replanting of Chikangawa Forest Reserve in an open and professional manner.
Minister of Finance is on record saying during pre-budget consultations that the budget will be shrunk and will be an intellectual budget that will be difficult to sell to Malawians including MPs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :