BY SYLVESTER KUMWENDA, MANA
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning says the newly launched ‘Chuma Cha Dziko’ Program will go a milestone in achieving efficient and effective use of public resources which will, in the long run, contribute to Malawi’s economic growth and development.
Joseph Mwanamvekha made the remarks on Thursday evening at Bingu International Conventional Centre in Lilongwe when he launched the Public Finance Management Reforms Program dubbed ‘Chuma Cha Dziko’.
The program will run for five years at the cost of EURO 22.0 million (approximately, MK17.9 billion) with financial assistance from European Union (EU).
He said one of the areas to focus on to achieve economic development is ensuring prudence and transparency in the way government and its various ministries, agencies and departments utilise public resources.
Mwanamvekha said with such areas in focus, the program will help in prudent financial management systems.
“The program is set to improve tax administration through interventions in the revenue policy and tax administration to increase fiscal space for financing inclusive growth and development.
“In addition, the program will support efforts towards mitigation of expenditure risks in public procurement, payroll/pension management and contingent liabilities in parastatals, among others,” the minister said.
Amongst other things, the program will help in public procurement and contract management by enhancing the effectiveness of oversight and regulatory function of public procurement, improvement in payroll and pension management.
This will be to eliminate ghost workers and increase control over the payroll, according to the Finance Minister.
He said the program will also help in improving government control and debt management, and also parastatal financial management and oversight.
“Let me stress that this is one way of showing how government is committed to strengthening public finance management reforms in order to realise the development aspirations of the people of Malawi.
“It is also to ensure that public finance management has the desired impact on service delivery,” said Mwanamvekha.
He then expressed gratitude to EU and its member states for providing financial resources to Government of Malawi to implement the ‘Chuma Cha Dziko’ Program.
In an interview, EU Ambassador to Malawi, Sandra Paesen said her organisation would like to see effective financial resource management in Malawi and that it remains dedicated to work with the ministry (of Finance) and other relevant ministries in implementing the program.
She said there have been some issues that have led the EU partner with Government of Malawi in strengthening its public finance systems.
“In over seven years, the EU has spent over 560 million Euros (over K45.5 billion) in Malawi, which is a huge sum.
“We have seen over the last years and decade that sometimes things go wrong because of lack of accountability, oversight and lack of the right culture.
“If the culture is such that if people think public resources are anonymous, they do not really matter and can be taken anyhow; then we have the wrong culture,” she said.
Paesen further said people should realise that public resources are Malawians’ taxpayers’ money; the same way donor money from donors like EU is EU’s taxpayers’ money.
“This is our collective contribution and as such, it is important to have good management of these resources so that the citizens of Malawi get good public service delivery,” said Paesen.
The launch attracted the presence of Heads of Mission active in public finance management like Malawi Revenue Authority, the Accountant General and other stakeholders.