Niras Malawi, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) on Tuesday drilled four parliamentary committees on budgetary governance.
The committees involved were of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Climate change, HIV and Aids and Nutrition.
The NGO Malawi country director Christopher Mpanga said the workshop, which took place in Salima, was aimed at building the capacity of the committees to improve the country’s agriculture sector so that it serves the rural communities.
He said: “The agriculture sector, despite being the backbone of the country’s economy, is not given enough resources which results in financial needs not matching the funding and allocation of financial resources from the Treasury.”
Mpanga said since there is a new cohort of parliamentarians as well as committee structures and new members, there was need to orient them on the content and scope of the National Agriculture Investment Plan so that they ably lobby for increased resources to the agriculture sector.
In his remarks, Natural Resources and Climate Committee of Parliament chairperson Werani Chilenga said there was need for a mindset change in parliamentarians if budget formulation was to be achieved.
“In Malawi, budget processes by members of Parliament are just a formality. As parliamentarians, we are far from embracing good governance. We just rubber-stamp the budget even after days of debate because we follow what our political parties tell us,” he said.
Chilenga commended Niras for the training, saying it will help in changing mindset of the lawmakers regarding issues of good governance and budgetary formulation.
On his part, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture vice-chairperson Ulemu Chilapondwa said the meeting will help the committee’s new members to contribute and scrutinise the budget document effectively and monitor its implementation.
The training was conducted through a project called Support to Parliament and Media to Strengthen Governance in the Agriculture Sector with funding from the European Union.