SDGS financing haunts Malawi

With one-third of the 2030 Agenda journey already complete, Malawi’s spending on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is not enough to meet the targets by the set year, the Brookings Institution has said.

The Washington-based non-profit public policy organisation observed in its foresight analysis that Malawi, alongside other 18 countries, will spend less than half of what is required by 2030.

The report indicates that countries such as Angola, Botswana and Mauritius have sufficient spending, with Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo facing the largest financing gaps.

According to estimates by the organisation, while Malawi’s SDGs average needs between 2015 and 2020 is at $8 billion (about K5.9 trillion), average spending stands at about $2 billion (K1.4 trillion) during the five-year period.

“To be successful, there is need for effective and coordinated partnerships to domesticate the SDGs to fully transpose the SDGs ecosystem into national and regional planning and implementation mechanisms as well as the African Union [AU] Agenda 2063, and to bridge the large financing and data gaps,” said the SDGs Centre for Africa director general Belay Begashaw in his analysis.

The 2019 SDGs Index and Dashboard, which ranks Malawi 25 out of 52 countries on the continent, singles out lack of policy coherence and coordination across levels of government, lack of effective linkages between policy planning and budgeting at the central level of government and lack of political will as the main challenges affecting their implementation.

Last year, a study on the country’s budgets, which was undertaken by the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) titled Sustainable Development Goals Audit on the National Budget Alignment in Malawi observed that the country is far from the minimum expenditure requirement for most of the priority areas outlined in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III).

As a result of this, the study said Malawi is unlikely to achieve the SDGs by a wide margin unless more public and private resources are mobilised and more allocation efficiencies are achieved.

It established a minimum annual total per capita budget expenditure requirement of $213.1 (about K156 000) for both recurrent and development expenditure, out of which per capita development expenditure of $131.6 (about K97 000) is required for the country to make significant progress towards SDGs achievement.

Currently, Malawi’s per capita develpoment expenditure averages around  $33.2 (about K24 000), resulting in a financing gap of over $98.38 (about K72 000) after accounting for off-budget support.

But Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha, in an earlier interview, said Malawi has domesticated SDGs in the MGDS III to accelerate the pace of economic growth and create wealth for its citizens. “The strategy is expected to facilitate implementation, monitoring and reporting on the SDGs. In addition, government intends to solidify efforts of domesticating the SDGs and other international commitments through sector working groups ,” he said.

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