Planning Commission revives sector working groups

National Planning Commission (NPC) has reconstituted Sector Working Groups (SWGs) which were established in 2008 but have been inactive.

The Malawi Government established SWGs to implement its National Development Strategy (NDS) to ensure domestication of regional and global commitments.

Speaking during the meeting, NPC director general Thomas Chataghalala Munthali said: “In the format they [SWGs] are now, they are supposed to operationalise all priorities of the country such as the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy and other development plans for Malawi.”

Munthali: They will help to harmonise
sector policy development

He said such groups will help to harmonise sectoral policy development, planning, budgeting, execution and increasing efficiency in resource allocation through consultations in the prioritisation of activities and resource allocation.

Munthali said once revamped, the forums will also present an opportunity for Malawi to implement international commitments with national priorities.

He said the recomposed SWGs will be aligned to the national development planning process.

On his part, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development deputy director responsible for planning Adwell Zembere said at the end of last year, only a few SWGs were active and functioning.

These include SWG on agriculture, integrated rural development and decentralisation, water, sanitation and irrigation, trade, industry and private sector development, health, gender, youth development and sports, economic governance and democratic governance.

Zembere cited lack of interaction and collaboration between SWGs on cross-cutting issues, inadequate guidance and technical support, poor dissemination of sector reports as well as inadequate staff in most of the planning units in ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as some of the challenges.

He said going forward, planning units in MDAs should enhance ownership of SWG activities and budget for the activities in their other recurrent transactions annual work plan and budget without expecting support for SWG activities to come from development partners.

Following the meetings with various stakeholders, NPC has since re-composed about 16 SWGs which will be submitted to the Office of the President and Cabinet and be given terms of reference before they start meeting.

NPC was established through an Act of Parliament in 2017 to ensure continuity of development beyond one political regime.

Currently, the commission is engaged in consultations with various stakeholders to develop the success strategy of Vision 2020, which is set to expire next year.

In recent weeks, NPC has been meeting various stakeholders to resuscitate SWGs, and last week, NPC officials met co-chairpersons and key non-State actors in Lilongwe to discuss the issue.

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