From the 8th – 9th May 2017 AWEPA held a national Focus Group discussion with Members and staff of the Malawi National Assembly in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Malawi delegation was led by Hon. Rhino Chiphiko, Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee (BC). The delegates reflected and deliberated on their Parliaments engagement in the budget cycle.
The Focus Group was held under the auspices of the AWEPA Strengthening SADC Parliamentary Engagement in the Budget Cycle Project. It was organised in order for the participants to gain an awareness of their parliament was engaging in the budget process, through sharing with them the information that was gathered and analysed during the data collection phase in September 2016. The Focus Group was designed in order to enable the Members of Parliament a unique opportunity to discuss current and envisioned parliamentary budget practices alongside staff members. During the deliberations, the desire by the Malawi Parliament to establish an independent and sustainable Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) was most evident. The parliamentarians also made a commitment to push for public finance reforms through amendments in the constitution, the public finance management act and other related legal instruments. The Malawi Parliamentary Service Commission was also identified as being in need of reformation. A commitment was made to strengthen the collaboration between the BC and the PAC in matters relating to the budget cycle.
At the close of the Focus Group the Parliamentarians adopted a list of actions that were thought to be pertinent for strengthening the Parliament’s engagement in the budget process. Both the Chairperson of the BC and that of the PAC committed to table the action points in their respective committees for adoption. The deliberations in the Focus Group also prepared the participants for their optimal engagement in the AWEPA Regional Seminar which took place immediately after the Focus Group.