5th August, 2021
Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) with financial support from the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) has launched a social accountability project entitled “Fostering transparency and accountability in public debt contracting and management in Malawi”
The project comes against a backdrop alarming increase in the country’s debt which in the 2020/21 financial year it accounted for 7.55% of the country’s GDP, almost double the SADC set threshold of 4%. Therefore, the project seeks to promote sustainable public debt contracting and ensure that it is efficiently utilised.
The launch was held on 3rd August, 2021 at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe and was attended by participants drawn from the Parliament, Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and the civil society organizations.
Speaking at the launch, the MEJN Board Vice Chairperson, Mr. Jeff Kabondo observed that Malawi can achieve inclusive development as envisaged in the Malawi 2063, only if the Government contract debt on sustainable basis and utilizes the debt for projects that have high development returns. He, therefore, called on the Government to be transparent in both contracting and utilizing debt and solicit inputs from stakeholders including the citizens as is the case with expenditure budget.
He expressed happiness that the Government has already started taking steps to reduce borrowing. “the Government has shown political will to address the problem of growing public debt, which is a positive step towards achieving inclusive development”, Kabondo added.
He implored the participants and all relevant stakeholders to fully participate in the process of implementing the project as it will complement the efforts by the Government.
In her presentation of the project, the MEJN Executive Director, Mrs. Bertha Phiri observed that the country’s debt stock was approaching the pre-debt relief levels in 2006. She, therefore, underlined the need for the Government to term its borrowing appetite.
Responding to the project launch, the stakeholders who spoke welcomed the project and observed that it had come at an opportune time when the Government was implementing reforms aimed at improving the country’s development outcomes.
Among those who spoke were the Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament, Honorable Gladys Ganda MP; the Deputy Director for Tax Policy and Revenue in Ministry of Finance, Mr. Greshom Kandio, The Chairperson of the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST), Mr. Joe Ching’ani; the District Commissioner for Ntcheu, Mr. Matewele; among others.
The project will be implemented over a period of 12 months from June 2021 focus on the central government debt and monitoring debt utilisation at district level with Ntcheu and Mzimba as pilot districts. The project will focus on official debts as well as debts incurred due to non-payment of bills.