The public service wage bill and the education sector accounted for the lion’s share of Malawi’s 2.4-billion-dollar 2019/20 national budget announced by Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamveka on Monday, 9 September 2019.
Presenting his maiden budget speech in the House, Mwanamveka said Malawi’s civil service took up 400 million dollars for salaries, which this year would see the lowest paid workers having their pay raised from 35 dollars to 48 dollars per month.
Mwanamveka allocated 246 million dollars to education to assist the troubled education sector recover from its worst performance in years when nearly half of its high school leavers failed to pass their final exams.
The agricultural sector got the third largest budgetary allocation, with a 230 million dollars provision, a rise from last year’s allocation of 207 million dollars, the minister said.
Mwanamveka provided 162 million dollars to the health sector, one of the most critical areas of the budget catering for Malawi’s free medical services the government offers to its 17 million people.
Construction activities in housing, stadia and roads have also taken up a great share of the budget, as well as a controversial farm subsidy programme which this year has a 49 million dollars allocation for 900 000 farmers.
Two sport stadia projects for local teams – Big Bullets and Wanderers – also an allocation of 2.2 million dollars. These were some of President Peter Mutharika’s campaign pledge ahead of the country’s May 2019 general elections, but critics have vowed to urge their parliamentarians not to approve this allocation.
The minister said Malawi’s economy is expected to grow by five percent this year while inflation is forecast to average 9.2.