Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha on Monday presented a K1.7 trillion budget which he hopes will deliver inclusive growth, infrastructure development and economic empowerment for a majority of Malawians.
In the budget, the Ministry of Finance has allocated allocated K172.8 billion to the education sector representing an increase of 21.5 percent from the approved budget of K142.2 billion in 2018/19 financial year. The figure also represents 10.6 percent of the total budget.
“This is due to increased allocation for public universities and sector’s development projects. Under Basic Education, Government will complete the construction of three Teacher Training Colleges for primary school teachers in Mchinji, Rumphi, and Chikwawa; and continue the construction of fourteen new Primary Schools in Urban centers,” Mwanamvekha told Parliament.
He added that government plans to construct secondary schools, the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centre of Excellence with a loan from the World Bank; continue construction of the Mombera University; and carry out expansion of Domasi College of Education with support from JICA.
The Government has also allocated its own resources to carry out expansion works at the Polytechnic, Chancellor College, LUANAR and rehabilitation of the Mzuzu University Library.
The agriculture sector has received the second largest budget allocation at K167.0 billion, which represents an increase of 11.3 percent from the approved figure of K150.0 billion during the 2018/19 fiscal year.
Mwanamvekha said this is due to increased allocation to a number of projects such as Shire Valley Transformation Project – Phase 1 which has been allocated K18.9 billion and the Agriculture Commercialization Project with an allocation of K13.1 billion.
Through the Agriculture Commercialisation Project, government hopes to develop value chains for 14 high value crops such as pulses, oil seeds, tubers, horticulture products, livestock and fisheries. The aim is to promote these products for the regional and international export markets and improve the incomes of smallholder farmers at household level.
For the Health Sector, the Ministry of Finance has allocated K101 billion, up from K89.9 billion in last year’s budget. An amount of K25.9 billion has been allocated for procurement of drugs, of which K10.6 billion is for central hospitals and K15.3 billion is for district hospitals.
The Government has also budgeted K1.5 billion for purchase as well as maintenance of critical medical equipment in central and district hospitals such as MRI and CT Scan. There is also an amount of K5.8 billion that has been allocated for the procurement of ambulances.
Under the sector’s development budget, money has been set aside for construction of the Military Hospital, Blantyre District Hospital, Balaka Referral Hospital and Mponela Community Hospital as well as completion of Phalombe District Hospital and the Cancer Centre in Lilongwe.
“The Military Hospital will be very important for this country as it will house highly qualified medical specialists and equipped with very sophisticated medical equipment for most critical medical conditions that are being referred abroad at the moment. The planned Balaka referral hospital is also very important as it will reduce travel distance and time for referral patients to get medical attention in the Eastern Region,” Mwanamvekha said.
In the 2019/ 20 budget, the transport Sector has been allocated K88.3 billion with K47.9 billion going to Roads Fund Administration for completion of various road projects across the country.
Some of the road projects are rehabilitation of the M1 road from Kamuzu International Airport turn-off to Mzimba turn-off and from Kacheche to Chiweta Bank, Rehabilitation of M1 and M8 road from Nsipe to Liwonde and dualisation of the M1 road from Bunda turn-off to Crossroads hotel with financing from the Japanese Government.
Mwanamvekha told the House that government has also provided resources for the construction of Livingstonia – Njakwa road, the Tsangano – Neno – Mwanza road and the Thabwa – Muona road and the K10 billion Likoma Jetty.
“For air transportation, Government has allocated amounts in this budget for the rehabilitation of Chileka Airport runway at K2.5 billion; Construction of New Mzuzu Airport with an initial amount of K500.0 million; and Government has also engaged external creditors for financing of Mangochi international airport,” he said.
In the budget, Energy and Mining Sector has received K40 billion while Tourism has been allocated an amount of K14.2 billion.
Some of the funds allocated to the mining sector will support EGENCO with financing of its power generation program in order o diversify energy sources away from hydro to others such as coal, solar and wind for resilience in power supply.