Opposition political parties in Malawi parliament have asked the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government to reduce the selling price of maize to enable poor Malawians manage to buy the commodity.
The calls come as the country suffers with soaring inflation, rising poverty and a crumbling economy.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, who is also leader of opposition in the national assembly and People’s Party (PP) acting president and leader of the party in the house Uladi Mussa made the calls in reaction to the ministerial statement on the food situation in the country from minister of Agriculture and Irrigation George Chaponda in parliament on Monday.
Chakwera asked the minister that the price of maize which is being sold at K250 per Kilogram making it the bag at MK12, 500 at ADMARC will not be easy for a poor Malawian to buy it considering with the current economic turmoil.
He said the price of many basic foodstuffs, including maize, are not affordable by Malawians due to the spiralling cost of living.
In his remarks, PP leader, Uladi Mussa asked the minister to confirm to the house and the nation that indeed it’s the cabinet who endorsed the current higher price of maize at ADMARC, saying from his experience it’s the cabinet that sanctions the ADMARC maize price.
Mussa, who once served as Agriculture Minister in the Bingu wa Mutharika regime, described the current maize prices as inhuman and aimed at punishing already suffering Malawians.
He then proposed to the government that they must reduce the price of the maize in order for the poor Malawians to manage to buy the commodity.
But in his response, Chaponda made it open that it’s impossible to reduce the price of the maize, saying the current price is already on a lower side as the original price was supposed to be MK312 per Kg and that government is subsidising as they cut it with MK62.
Chaponda told the house that apart from that the price is already subsidised, the country risk to lose IMF programs if it reduces further the price as it will have an impact to the economy of the country.
This irked both opposition and independent members of the parliament who questioned the seriousness of DPP government to be afraid of losing IMF programs instead of being afraid of losing life of Malawians whom they are serving.
PP spokesperson on finance, Ralph Jooma, said:“How can you say you could not subsidise maize because you fear the loss of a programme not a life?”
Recently, Secretary to the Treasury Ronald Mangani said 39 percent of the country’s population will not meet their annual food requirements during the 2016/17 consumption period.
Chaponda told Parliament that government had laid out a plan to import about one million metric tonnes of maize to be done by both Admarc and the National Food Reserve Agency.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :