The Malawi Economics Justice Network (Mejn) has warned that the country risks another ‘barren’ next 50 years without any transformation in the people’s livelihood unless the subsequent national budgets desist from the past mediocre performances.
The network has also said it is disappointed that after last ten years of diligently and constantly undertaking the monitoring the national budget, ‘with a lot of faith and seriousness in evidence-based policy advocacy and influence,’ Malawians are yet to realise meaningful fruits even after different budgets have come and gone, bearing different titles, including ‘Living Within Our Means.’
Mejn has said this in an issue paper reflecting Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) submissions into the 2014/15 budget entitled ‘From a decade long national and district budget consultations with hope,’ seen by The Nation.
“After our celebrations of 50 years of political independence, we will probably settle for nothing less but get some strength and motivation to deal with the challenges facing the economy head on; Lest we have another barren next 50 years without any transformation in the people’s livelihoods,” said Mejn executive director Dalitso Kubalasa.
Kubalasa said the watershed of the historic May 20, 2014 tripartite general elections have gone but said the new Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led government now faces high expectations of Malawians on their basic livelihoods provision through better public service delivery.
He said as is typical of any elections year, economic agents had, prior to the elections, adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude.
Kubalasa said the last few months before the elections actually witnessed an intensified liquidity squeeze in the economy, leading to the slowdown in economic activity and a weak aggregate demand to-date.
He said business confidence and citizen trust have in the recent months also taken a very hard knock.
“Unfortunately, they still remain at an all-time low, thanks to Cashgate and the continuing economic squeeze. All this is in the face of the continuing maze of unanswered questions around the myriad exposed challenges of the public finance management systems,” he said.
The Mejn boss said it was imperative for DPP government to swiftly walk the talk on confidence and trust Building measures as urgently as possible.
He said such measures should not only sound politically correct, but also help Malawi to truly break the jinx of all the rhetoric with no action from the past elections and policies.
Kubalasa said various electoral campaign promises by DPP government now need to be rolled out into full action if Malawi is to effectively move the economy along the trajectory envisaged under the county’s operational blue-prints.
“It all begins with the 2014/15 budget as the pace-setter for the direction towards doing real business unusual,” he said.
He also said as the country starts the next 50 years of Malawi’s political independence, towards our aspirations for economic independence, it is very sad to note that our macro-economic framework is already saddled a huge burden citing the ballooning domestic debt (K340 billion), arrears (in excess of K160 billion) and foreign debt (in excess of $1.5 billion).
Secretary to the Treasury Newby Kumwembe, who presided over the Lilongwe pre-budget consultation on behalf of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe on Monday, said government believes in the inclusion of all stakeholders in the formulation of policies that should translate into sustainable growth and development.
“The 2014/15 budget will be framed in such a way that it enhances sustainability of economic growth and development through policies that consolidate macro-economic stability, reinforce resilience to shocks, improve governance in public financial management, strengthen financial oversight and support private sector led growth and export diversification,” he said.