Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development has slashed by 60 percent the starter funding for the Blantyre Stadium project from K500 million to K200 million.
The reduction, which has triggered fears that it will delay implementation of the multi-billion kwacha project, is highlighted in the Mid-Year Budget Review Statement which the responsible minister, Goodall Gondwe, presented in the National Assembly on Friday.
The statement attributes the reduction to reduced funding to government self-sponsored projects where the project falls.
It reads in part: “Total development expenditure has been reduced by K27.5 billion……This is largely on account of the reduction in domestically financed projects from K139.4 billion to K111.9 billion.”
Gondwe said though there is a reduction in allocation to locally financed development projects, “critical projects have been prioritised”.
Until December last year, government had spent K70 million on the stadium project, according to the statement which accounts for the revenue generated, spent, budget challenges and projects future expenditure.
“The project is at preparatory stage to construct a state-of-the-art stadium,” the statement says on the status of the project.
The project, which started in 2017, has perpetually suffered financial struggles as its K1.5 billion starter-funding in the previous budgetary calendar was diverted to renovation of Kamuzu Stadium.
The new stadium was supposed to replace Kamuzu Stadium, which was declared a risk to spectators by Fifa and reduced its capacity from 32 000 to about 13 000.
However, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) licensing and compliance manager Casper Jangale said the old stadium can still operate for a relatively longer period.
“I cannot comment anything on the [allocation] cut. However, I would say Kamuzu Stadium still has life. It can take us to another 5-10 years with proper maintenance,” he said.
Some analysts have been backing the need for a new stadium, saying Kamuzu Stadium capacity reduction means a drop in revenue collection, especially during high profile matches.
But Jangale said the solution to that would include raising gate charges.
“From the look of things we are yet to fill it to capacity since it was reopened. There are strategies that can be used to control [ crowd] by, among other things, increasing gate charges plus putting games on television,” he said.
President Peter Mutharika promised to construct a new stadium in Blantyre when he was campaigning for the 2014 Presidential Elections.