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Malawi Economic Justice Network - Comments on the proposed Malawi Budget 2001-2002

2. Accountability Expenditures
The table below outlines expenditures for the key accountability agencies, which are also crucial to effective poverty reduction.
Spending on Accountability Agencies 2000/01 Approved 2000/01 Revised 2001/02 Estimate 2001/02 Adjusted for Inflation Increase or Decrease Adjusted for Inflation
National Assembly 293,936,569 388,484,597 346,222,809 263,688,354 -10%
Judiciary 197,716,489 176,959,087 377,981,520 287,876,253 +47%
Office of Ombudsman 20,682,724 20,099,825 27,984,229 21,313,198 +3%
Anti Corruption Bureau 40,370,359 53,302,408 69,479,603 52,916,681 +31%
Law Commission 33,555,239 97,630,608 63,497,428 48,360,570 +44%
Human Rights Commission 17,252,294 34,959,212 37,804,655 28,792,578 +67%
National Audit Office 22,235,439 26,672,723 34,059,708 25,940,372 +17%
MEJN commends the Government on proposing to increase expenditure on almost all of the 'accountability agencies'. However, the one key exception is the National Assembly, where expenditure is set to decrease by 10%. The PRSP- Findings to Date clearly stated that the role of Parliament in scrutinising the actions of Government is crucial for effective poverty reduction, yet we find the Government is intending to spend less and not more on Parliament. In particular the committee system was cited by the PRSP groups as being the critical mechanism for monitoring. However, this year's budget only allows for a total of 40 committee meetings for all the 18 committees together (just over 2 days each). The Public Accounts Committee, arguably one of the most effective committees last year, met for more than 40 days. The budget for committee meetings is therefore completely inadequate.
Overall it must also be noted that expenditure of Government on accountability is still dwarfed by other expenditures. Government is proposing to spend twice as much this year on the OPC as it will on Parliament. Government will also spend twice as much on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it will on the Judiciary. Lastly, the combined total expenditure for the Ombudsman, ACB, Law Commission, Human Rights Commission and the National Audit Office (total 177 million MK) is still substantially less than that being allocated to State Residences (234 million MK). It is in making these comparisons and not in percentage increases that we see the commitment of the Government to accountable expenditure

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