Malawi Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe has defended the controversial salary increase of President Peter Mutharika and his deputy Saulos Chilima, saying they were justified as part of salary harmonisation policy of government .
Gondwe told a news conference on Sunday that the pay hike was not proposed by the Democratic Progressive Party led government but was carried forward from the previous Peoples Party administration.
“When we were taking over the government in May this year , there was already a proposal on the same for the elected leaders, we just implemented the proposals,” he said
Gondwe said government was still carrying on salary harmonisation and that pay packages will be reviewed to be in line with the policy .
The Finance Minister said while the new salary structure for the presidency has been put forward, the Head of State and vice president have deferred the pay rise for themselves.
The 80-percent increase for the President had drawn criticism with the rights campaigners calling it “insesitive” and “inappropriate”.
Gondwe collaborated what chief secretary to the government, George Mkondiwa, said on Saturday that while the proposed salary increase may be justified, President Mutharika and VP Chilima decided to forego the increase “in solidarity with Malawians who are presently undergoing very tough economic hardship.”
In the new salary structure announced on Saturday, Mutharika, who came to power after defeating Joyce Banda in May elections, was to be paid $5,263 (2.7 million kwachas) a month. He will now revert to his old salary of 1.5 million kwachas.
His deputy Saulos Chilima, who was to be paid 1.8 million kwachas, reverts to his old salary of 1.0 million.
Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said the new salaries were “in line with the budget” which was passed by parliament last September.
The budget includes a deficit of $205 million after Western donors suspended aid worth $150 million.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :