Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha has warned that using Government funds to finance fresh elections could cripple Government operations and service delivery, including spending in social sectors such as health and education.
Mwanamvekha made the remarks on Friday in Parliament where he presented the 2019/2020 Mid-Year Budget Review Statement.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is expected to hold fresh elections this year following the nullification of the 2019 presidential elections by the Constitutional Court.
The Minister noted that MEC has submitted a provisional budget amounting to K32.8 billion for the fresh presidential elections.
“However, the revised budget has provided K29.1 billion for that purpose. Government is still discussing with development partners for financing of the difference and possible run-off elections,” said Mwanamvekha.
He then warned the Members of Parliament that if donors do not provide a positive response, government will have to either increase borrowing or drastically cut expenditure which will likely affect service delivery in all sectors.
“Madam Speaker, I also wish to invite the Honourable Members to note that it will be very difficult to finance the proposed fresh presidential elections as the budget is under extreme pressure, especially from mandatory expenditures which constitute about 60.0 percent of total expenditure,” he said.
Mwanamvekha also told the House that actual expenditure on the elections will depend on the outcome of the appeal case at the Supreme Court where President Peter Mutharika and MEC are appealing against the Constitutional Court’s ruling.
In the budget statement, Mwanamvekha also announced that the budget has been revised from K1.74 trillion to K1.84 trillion.
He said this has been done because of emerging fiscal pressures due to lower than expected performance in domestic revenues and higher than planned expenditures in some budget lines.