Leader of opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera has criticised the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme, widely known as Malata and Cement Subsidy, saying instead of building productive capacity to generate adequate revenues in future in the absence of budgetary support, the DPP government is busy building “consumption capacity” like the Malata and Cement Subsidy.
He was commenting on the state of the economy in his response to President Peter Mutharika’s statement during the opening of the 46th session of Parliament on Friday.
Chakwera said: “Who in their right mind increases consumption when productivity is shrinking? Besides, when are we going to open our eyes to see that knee-jerk subsidy programmes are the most vulnerable to abuse?”
The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president said much as Malawians deserved better housing, his party believed the subsidy was not the best way.
“We in the MCP believe that the best way to improve living standards and conditions is to increase the capacity of Malawians through private sector jobs and businesses that generate enough income for them to build their own houses,” he said.
Chakwera noted that President Peter Mutharika said that 80 beneficiaries in the Malata and Cement Subsidy have been identified per constituency in all the 193 constituencies but asked “what were the criteria for selecting the beneficiaries? What parameters did they use? Who selected those beneficiaries?”
He added: “Hindsight teaches us that these kinds of programs are ill-advised, ill-devised, and ill-executed.”
Critics says the programme mirrors the Mudzi Transformation Trust initiative by former president Joyce Banda meant to support social and economic projects for the transformation of lives of Malawians.
But government has said the new program has different objectives
Building costs in Malawi are said to be the highest in the southern African region and it is estimated that it costs 55 percent higher to construct any building in the country compared to other countries within the region, according to a recent study by the University of Malawi.
The study, conducted in 2012, shows that the high costs of construction in Malawi are to blame for the astronomical costs of construction in the country.
President Mutharika said government is committed to address the housing needs of low income and vulnerable households.
“Further research carried out by the Malawi Government with support from the United Nations Human Settlement Programme shows that Malawi needs to be constructing 21,000 housing units per annum the urban areas for a ten year period in order to bridge the gap between demand and supply of houses in the country,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika said adequate and decent housing is a catalyst for development and one of the requirements for sustainable livelihoods.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :