Despite the fact that most Malawians are a bit advanced in understanding how their finances are managed at country’s central offices, the Capital Hill, the opposite is evident at local government structures.
Financial analysts claim when there is little knowledge on how public finances are managed, as it was the case at Capital Hill something that led to Cash-gate, issues of transparency and accountability become dismal.
The Citizen for Justice (FCJ) Executive Director, Renford Mwangonde was quoted in local press what is critical in local councils is that most Malawians are not aware of budget and expenditure processes, something that affects issues of transparency and accountability.
And, The Open Budget Index 2012 notes that government budgets matter to all, citizens want to know—indeed, have the right to know—what is in their country’s budget. In fact, the index adds that there should be mechanisms for public participation and accountability to keep budgets on track.
Further, the country’s Constitution provides the need for government to introduce measures which will guarantee accountability, transparency, personal integrity and financial probity and which by virtue of their effectiveness and transparency will strengthen confidence in public institutions.
It is perhaps against this background that MamaYe Malawi is implementing the Health Budget Advocacy Scorecard in the Northern region three districts of Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and Mzimba South.
MamaYe Malawi Country Director Mathias Chatuluka told the participants during the HBA scorecard roll out meeting in Rumphi that the Scorecard is a tool that will define the key aspects to be considered and carried out in order to generate evidence of practices that are transparent and duty bearers are becoming more accountable to those they serve.
He says, "the tool will be used by district stakeholders and will focus on the health sector in order to show that processes, procedures and decisions to plan, budget and spend resources provided from government are used to in manner that promotes the improvement of quality of life of citizens in the district".
Chatuluka says apart from ensuring the budget transparency and accountability, the HBA scorecard will enhance national commitment to decentralization. He further says district councils are a focal point for development planning, management and enhancing citizen ownership.
Councils, as such, expand opportunities for public participation in budget processes.
So, the first meeting of the HBA scorecard roll out took place in Rumphi district where it was unanimously adopted.
In fact, Rumphi district council chairperson Chairperson Harry Mnyenyembe was all smiles during the HBA scorecard session. He said,
This scorecard will help the people of Rumphi to hold to account people in authority. This mechanism is particularly helpful because we are sure it will improve our budget efficiency while ensuring that every player is more transparent and accountable.
Mnyenyembe observed budget transparency and accountability requires clear understanding of how budget decisions are made; availability of comprehensive, accurate, appropriate and timely budget information; and citizens’ capacity to analyze how the resources are used to deliver budget outcomes.
That’s why as a people of Rumphi we unanimously adopt this HBA scorecard.
The MamaYe Health Budget Advocacy (HBA) scorecard strives at making sure that health sector budget preparation is widely consultative, district council governance structure ensure adherence to transparency and accountability for the health sector and budget information is available and communicated to the public. These three components of the HBA scorecard are identified as critical in promoting and increasing health budget transparency.
MamaYe Malawi is implementing the HBA in partnership with the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC).