Budget and Finance Committee of Malawi drilled on scrutiny and oversight role

Simplex Chithyola Banda

The First Deputy Speaker of Malawi Parliament, Madalitso Kazombo, says effective scrutiny and implementation of the national budget needs skilled and knowledgeable members for national development.

Kazombo made the remarks on Saturday during the official opening of the budget scrutiny workshop at the Parliament Building in Lilongwe.

He said the workshop will allow members of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament to strengthen their understanding of the importance of the budget process, and learn best practices from around the Commonwealth.

He said the budget, which is often referred to as the financial blueprint of the nation, is a cornerstone of good governance.

“Budget determines how public resources are allocated, setting the priorities that shape the trajectory of our societies and as representatives of the people, we must ensure that this process is transparent, accountable, and reflective of the needs and aspirations of those we serve”, said Kazombo.

Parliamentary oversight of the budget is not merely a formality; it is a crucial mechanism for upholding the principles of good governance and safeguarding the interests of citizens. 

Through rigorous scrutiny, analysis, and debate, parliamentarians play a pivotal role in ensuring that public funds are used effectively and efficiently to address the pressing challenges facing our communities.

The workshop is specifically tailored for the  Members of the Budget Committee, staff from the Parliamentary Budget Office as well as Clerks of Key Committees who will provide a valuable opportunity to deepen the understanding of the intricacies involved in budget scrutiny and the oversight role of parliament.

“By strengthening our collective capacity for budget scrutiny and oversight, Parliament can promote fiscal responsibility. This can be achieved by ensuring that public funds are used efficiently and transparently, delivering the greatest benefit to Malawians. 

“Additionally, Parliament can prioritize development by advocating for budgetary allocations that are aligned with our national development strategies, fostering economic growth and social progress”, he added.

Chairperson for Budget and Finance Committee of Malawi Parliament Gladys Ganda said the workshop will add value to the members as far as the oversight role is concerned.

“We have tried to do a lot in budget scrutiny in Malawi but the problem has been on our oversight role as members and stakeholders where there is a big gap,” said Ganda.

She said Parliament has been approving budgets after going through a scrutiny process but implementation has been done not in line with what was approved by members, saying the workshop will fill this gap.

On her part, the Executive Director for Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), Bertha Phiri, also said the budget scrutiny workshop will provide insights and knowledge on how other Commonwealth Parliaments handle and play oversight roles.

In her analysis, the Malawi Parliament has a problem with the formulation and execution of the national budget where other pillars are not followed.

“During budget formulation and execution, some critical pillars are not followed like who to engage first. But I am very optimistic that after this workshop we will start doing well to serve the nation better”, said Phiri.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has assembled an esteemed panel of experts from the UK House of Commons, and the Scottish Parliament as well as local experts from the Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) who will share their insights, experiences, and best practices in this field.