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Chithyola Banda, Tchereni litmus test

Today, Malawians will know what the combination of Simplex Chithyola Banda as Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and Betchani Tchereni as Secretary to Treasury will bring as the former gets set to unpack his maiden full budget.

The National Budget is a financial statement forecasting government revenues and expenditure for a period of time.

Broadly, the Malawi Parliament says the budget is a comprehensive plan of action designed to achieve policy objectives set by the government for the coming year(s).

An effective budget pursues three (partially competing) objectives, which are maintaining fiscal discipline, allocating resources in accordance with policy priorities and efficiently delivering services or value for money.

The 2024-2025 National Budget is coming at a time the economy has started recovering from deadly shocks it faced due the Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions in Europe and natural disasters such as cyclones.

President Dr Lazarus Chakwera has placed a heavy responsibility on the shoulders of Banda and Tchereni to formulate a budget that will result in food security, wealth and job creation.

The president has also given them a tool to use called the ATM Strategy, which leverages on Agriculture, Tourism and Mining to achieve these.

The Malawi leader expressed belief that utilizing the ATM Strategy in ensuring food security, wealth and job creation is the right step towards achieving the Malawi 2063 development blueprint.

“In our context, the priorities are food security, wealth creation, and job creation. Those priorities can best be achieved by ensuring that every MDA including this House, is doing its part to promote and stimulate productivity in the ATM Strategy areas of Agriculture, Tourism, and Mining,” the president said.

The National Planning Commission, through its Director General Thomas Munthali, is confident that Banda and Tchereni have what it takes to ensure that the budget puts the State of the Nation Address (SONA) into practice.

Munthali said “the most immediate test to getting serious and operationalizing the SONA is the forthcoming national budget, for which this Parliament is sitting.

“He [the President] has set the most important tone of wealth creation, and we all have to hold each other accountable to get this into action.”

Betchani Tchereni, the Secretary to Treasury

All eyes on me, Banda will probably hum today, and indeed all eyes will be on him to put into perspective how the ATM Strategy will be used to achieve Wealth Creation, Job Creation and Food Security.

Food security needs a vibrant agriculture sector which should be anchored by diversification and large-scale farming.

Malawians therefore expect a budget in which a big chunk of development expenditure will be channelled towards a continuation of mega farms establishment.

Job creation and wealth is as a result of a vibrant private sector among key factors.

The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president Lekani Katandula said they expect a budget that will create a conducive environment for doing business.

Katandula said the budget should also look at avenues that are going to spur economic growth through deliberate policies which will push the private sector forward.

“We need to make sure that people are getting out of poverty and there are more people that are generating wealth, therefore it is our hope that the SONA will translate into a tax regime that is encouraging local investments,” he said.

The Malawi2063 blueprint seeks to make the country a wealthy and self-reliant nation by 2063.

The development blueprint has three pillars, namely agriculture productivity and commercialization, industrialization and urbanization.

The pillars stand on the foundation of mindset change, effective governance systems and institutions, enhanced public sector performance, private sector dynamism, human capital development, economic infrastructure, and environmental sustainability.

Today, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Simplex Chithyola Banda and Secretary to Treasury Betchani Tchereni have a test to pass, which, if aced, would provide Malawians with hope and optimism that the economy is in safe hands.

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