Statement by Malawi’s Development Partners at High Level Forum, September 2017

Development Partner Statement for High Level Forum 3

September 2017:

Towards and Inclusive and Accelerated MGDSIII Implementation

 Honorable Goodall Gondwe, Minister of Finance and other Ministers here present

Members of Parliament

Development Partner colleagues,

Representatives of civil society organizations, academia and the private sector

All Protocols Observed

As Malawi’s Development Partners and friends, we are pleased to participate in today’s High Level Forum on Inclusive and Accelerated MGDSIII Implementation and the critical issues of population growth and decentralization.  We appreciate the government’s inclusive approach to both preparations for this forum and the MGDSIII itself; this highlights the fact that Malawi’s development is a goal we share.

Last year’s High Level Forum took place as the country braced for drought and widespread hunger.  It reviewed the roadmap for the development of the MGDS III and an ambitious agenda for breaking the cycle of food insecurity.  Since that time a New Agricultural Policy and Irrigation Policy have been launched and a National Resilience Strategy developed.  Commissioners have been named to the National Planning Commission, which will play an important role in monitoring and evaluating MGDS III programs.

Today, the Government will share a presentation on the draft MGDSIII being reviewed by Cabinet and we will have an opportunity to discuss implementation of priorities crucial for ensuring sustained implementation of Malawi’s development ambitions.   Let us together change the perception that Malawi is policy rich and implementation poor

There are four critical foundations for the achievement of the MGDS goals:

  1. an overall policy framework that delivers macro-economic stability and coherent sectoral policies that encourage private investment while protecting the most needy;
  2. a governance environment that ensures effective use of public resources and efficient service delivery;
  3. a medium-term expenditure framework and associated annual budgets that reflect MGDS III priorities and flagship projects; and
  4. a strong monitoring system that enables the Government to account for results and take informed decisions along the way.

Development Partners have three key concerns with the MGDS – and for Malawi’s development:

Prioritization: It may be difficult to prioritize the use of scarce resources with a development plan of USD1.2 billion. We look forward to the Government of Malawi prioritizing when rolling out its implementation plan on a few areas that will have the greatest impact in the next 5-10 years on Malawi development. As an example four possible areas would be:

  1. Energy generation;
  2. Policies to stimulate agriculture production and diversification, including deregulation of markets and promotion of private sector investment;
  3. Programs to achieve more efficient and effective use of public resources, such as Public Financial Management, Public Sector Reform, and anti-corruption reforms; and
  4. Expansion of youth friendly reproductive health services & girl’s access to education.

 Policy coherence and link to the national budget:  We, Development Partners, are concerned that the MGDS is not explicitly linked to other national policies particularly the National Resilience Strategy which was presented by the Vice President yesterday and, most importantly, the national budget.  Without public investments by the Government of Malawi in the priority areas and flagship projects, you will not achieve the MGDS III development ambitions.  The linkages amongst sectors such as agriculture and social protection, agriculture and energy, energy and tourism, need to be explicitly recognized and harnessed, to maximize impact of scarce resources.

Policy reforms:  The MGDS III priorities and flagship projects are capital intensive and do not put emphasis on policy reforms that are required to remove existing development constraints, such as the reform of Control of Good Act and Special Crop Acts.

The other two items on our High Level Forum Agenda, decentralization and population growth, are critical to the realization of our shared MGDSIII goals.   MGDS III outlines Government’s intent to enhance transparency and accountability, undertake public sector reforms, devolve certain functions to local councils, and improve public financial management.   However, the MGDSIII implementation plan does not identify specific actions for achieving this.  We are very pleased that our dialogue today includes a discussion of the important steps Malawi is taking to devolve some responsibility and authority from the national to local governments.  We hope you will identify leaders and champions across all of the affected Ministries who will lead the decentralization process, and a process whereby there will be robust accountability, transparency and oversight at the council level.

Similarly, while MGDS III appropriately recognizes the challenges posed by rapid population growth, and proposes sound strategies for arresting it, projections of the numbers of new hospitals, schools, and jobs required by 2050 if the fertility rate does not fall from its current level of 4.4 children per woman are alarming. They highlight the urgency of bringing greater focus to our collective efforts in delivering on MGDS III plans for addressing population growth and harnessing your demographic dividend.

As MGDS III implementation will soon get underway, we look forward to helping you clearly define priorities and clarify policy and budget linkages.  Please know that as you work to grow the Malawian economy and improve the livelihoods of Malawians everywhere, we stand with you.

Zikomo kwambiri.