Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has admitted there are serious problems in the way the country handles its fiscal systems, and has warned that this can frustrate efforts to revive the economy.
Gondwe made the observation on Friday when he presented a K1.1 trillion 2017/2018 National Budget at National Assembly in the capital Lilongwe for the 2017/2018 fiscal year.
According to Gondwe, there is still a lot to be done as far as fiscal discipline is concerned.
“I will be the first to admit that we still have a lot to perfect economic management and certainly the economy still requires careful handling,” said Gondwe.
The purse-keeper added: “I also admit that we yet have a lot to do to adopt basic sound fiscal management practices as needed to routinize bank reconciliations. As the recent forensic audits have shown, lack of systematic reconciliations have resulted in inexplicable use of huge amount of resources.”
He warned that such careless use of resources “can easily reverse the rebound.”
But he said government was committed to ensuring that the discipline is achieved, citing a current audit by independent auditors regarding K236 billion [of the K577 billion that was lost mysteriously with government system], which is voluntary being paid for by the government.
The finance minister also said plans were underway to put in place a strategic fiscal structure.
“[We will establish a fiscal structure that provides for systematic reconciliations between government accounts and bank statements which ought to be adopted forcibly and urgently,” said Gondwe, adding: “We no longer need donors to demand this, for us this most important measure against corruption.”
Gondwe also warned about wastage of resources within the public sector, saying the practice pushes back the country’s economy into a dungeon.
“I owe it to the House to point out that an economic rebound does not mean that we now have enough resources to spend. It merely means that we have emerged out of the hole into which we were thrust by the ‘Cashgate’ episode and that we can now commence an economic management that should lead to robust economic growth,”he warned.
Gondwe told the House that the government still has an uphill task to improve in economic management, citing misuse of public funds in many ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
He announced the budgetary increases to governance institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Judiciary, Legal Aid Bureau and the Directorate of Assets Declarations.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Karl Chokotho hailed Gondwe for coming out clear on the issue of corruption and abuse of public resources.
However, in quoted reported by Weekend Nation newspaper, Chokotho called for more resolute action to deal with issues of fraud and corruption from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.
Said Chokotho: “I welcome the remarks made by the finance minister. It is a key message that requires more of incisive action to bust corruption in the country. While it is encouraging to hear such words from the minister, government must ensure that it puts down measures that will rid the country of corruption. Mere increase in funding for watchdog bodies will not entirely do the magic.”
Chokotho’s remarks were echoed by Chancellor College-based economic professor Ben Kaluwa, who said the country is still grappling with wastage of State resources.
Gondwe told the House that the government still has an uphill task to improve in economic management, citing misuse of public funds in many ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :