Malawi Drops on Open Budget Index

A survey shows that Malawi has dropped on the ranking of Open Budget Index (OBI) which focuses on disseminating information on how the country collects and spends public money.

The survey conducted by International Budget Partnership and Malawi Economic Justice Network says the country has reduced budget information it provides the general public hence undermining the ability of citizens to hold government to account on public funds management.

The findings were revealed during a dialogue meeting on 2017 Open Budget Survey (OBS) for Malawi organized by MEJN in collaboration with UNICEF in Lilongwe.

Presenting the findings, Executive Director of MEJN Dalitso Kubalasa said the survey was conducted in 115 countries across six continents in 2017.

“The survey uses three elements namely Transparency, Public Participation and Budget Oversight when assessing the countries. Malawi scored 26 percent on Transparency, 15% on Public Participation and 55% on budget oversight a development which he described as not good. Overall the country has scored 26 percent unlike 65 percent that was scored in 2015,” Kubalasa explained.

He said the report shows that in the past decade Malawi has reduced the information it disseminates about the budget.

“Malawi only publishes the Enacted Budget and Year-End-Report in hard copy. Moreover, Malawi has failed to make produce Audit Report on time describing it as disappointing,” added Kubalasa.

MEJN Director believes that government of Malawi can rise on the rank if it improves the way it disseminates budget information.

Among the recommendations on transparency, the survey has Malawi should be publishing a Pre-Budget Statement, an Enacted Budget and a Year-End Report online.

“On how the country can improve participation, the report says Malawi must hold legislative hearings on the formulation of the annual budget, during which members of the public or civil society organizations can provide their views. On improving oversight the survey has said that the country must consider setting an independent fiscal institution so that it will be rated by OBS in 2019,” Kubalasa revealed.

In SADC region, South Africa has topped the index by scoring 89 percent while Lesotho is the lowest with 0 percent.

Open Budget Survey was launched in 2006 with the focus on three pillars of public budget which are accountability, transparency and public participation.

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