Whither the Zero-deficit Budget: DPP’s diminishing options

Last week, Malawians woke up to the news that the local currency, the kwacha, has tumbled in value against major currencies such as the US dollar. When it is like this, academicians, economists and other commentators often rush with explanations, analyses and theories to make sense of the situation.Loose cannon

To an ordinary Malawian, however, this normally means there is most certainly going to be a general rise in the price of goods and services. It is bad news. It is bad news enough that the local currency has fallen in value; it is scary that it is losing value during the period when it ought to have been appreciating in value because of the forex wired in by tobacco.

It is therefore disturbing that the country is instead experiencing a reverse progress at a time when it should be otherwise.

For some time now, Goodall Gondwe and his compatriots in government have been the busiest. They have been going around, sometimes even losing their whims, trumpeting that what this country needs is a zero-deficit budget.

According to the Goodalls, this is because Malawi cannot go on relying on money from tax-payers in other countries as those countries are also facing their own problems. It is time, they say, this country starts standing on its own two feet (traditionally, 40% of Malawi’s recurrent budget comes from donors).

Attaining a self-sustaining status is, however, not a one day process. It is a gradual and economic growth process that calls for the help of our bilateral and multilateral partners. It is not a quick-fix or default process that can be achieved overnight like Goodall and company currently are brainwashing Malawians into believing. We all know that our donors suspended budgetary support due to corruption, theft and serious mismanagement of public funds by government.

We all know that they (donors) are demanding accountability and discipline in the management of public funds. We know donors want the K92 billion ‘cashgate’ to be thoroughly investigated and all culprits arraigned and quickly brought to book. We know that donors are calling for the total overhaul of the government’s accounting system, the Integrated Financial Management System (IFIMIS).

Government must implement these measures, or at least take concrete steps that would convince donors that it means business. Much as the zero-deficit budget is a good thing for the country, it must be implemented as a long-term plan, and not as a panic button like what is happening now.

We desperately need that 40% to balance our budgetary books, because arrogance will only hurt the common people. The DPP should be the first political party to know this. If pacifying the ego of donors is the best strategy under the circumstances, why should we wonder in the wilderness? No single corrupt soul must never be larger than the common good. Implementing these measures is not an impossible task to accomplish if only there is political will.

In fact, the political will Vice President Saulos Chilima has been talking about under the civil service reforms must start here. It is the best if not the only way to go towards removing the budgetary bottlenecks that are threatening to bring the whole government machinery to a halt.

The wild tax measures that government has recently thrown at the business sector and the common people are a sharp reminder that Goodall Gondwe and crew have lost their bearings and simply do not have a clue about what they must do to properly respond to the economic dynamics that have visited this country.

Instead of working to create an enabling environment for business to sprout, Goodall has turned government into a parasite that is now sucking the blood of the very private sector, which has always been touted as the engine for development and growth.

How does Goodall think businesses will grow when Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) is now empowered to close businesses without a court order? How does he think Malawi can be an investment heaven when consumers will face the danger of arrest for not demanding a receipt? Who would invest in a place where internet charges are so exorbitant; where even SMSs are heavily taxed?

By squeezing out the private sector with punitive taxes and at the same time talking about courting investors to invest in Malawi, government is once again shooting itself in the foot. That is assuming it is left with any foot at all since it has been shooting at it for some time now.

It is like constantly saluting a person with a hats-off before giving him a kick to the balls. The trouble is President Peter Mutharika is not his own man and making decisions always appear to be a tough call for him. Chances are he is listening to Goodall on this one.

Goodall might have been a bright economic fellah at some point, but we must accept that the man is now just a shadow of the economist he used to be. Age has obviously caught up with him, or we might be dealing with an acute case of neurological disorder as others have already intoned.

The time Peter Mutharika will realize he has been feeding on garbage from his friend, Malawi will be in tatters and he will pray to be abducted by aliens from Mars, or to be devoured by goblins from middle Earth.

“There can be economy only where there is efficiency.” —Benjamin Disraeli

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30 thoughts on “Whither the Zero-deficit Budget: DPP’s diminishing options”

  1. Mavuto zulu says:

    Malawi vuto

  2. kanyimbi says:

    Comment 22 (Ganyavu) upangiza kuti anthu ambiri azavotere DPP. Why saying those that voted for DPP are dogs? Now more people voted DPP so does it means we have more dogs in Malawi?

  3. Dwambazi says:

    Power of the pen……..Go a head Ntata keep opening our eyes!!!!

  4. Ndale says:

    inu adpp ufiti wanu ndi pitala wanuyo

  5. In the know says:

    One retired politician once told me that that they (politicians) just waste time in blame games when in fact there is very little each government can do due to the limited resource base this country has. This country needs a revolution if we are to turn things around.

  6. Mw says:

    Malawi today lacks leaders with clear vision or if any they heavily rely on the visions produced and presented to them by expensive consultants and worse still gathering dust at capitol hill

    I think His excellencyNgwazi Kamuzu wo banda had a reason good enough to become our leader whom we sadly miss.
    yes gudo gondwe os an expired economic tool.

  7. Ingwenyama. says:

    Inde fundozo nzoona azungu atayeni koma kuba kutherethu Mk577billion ndi ndalama yambiri mwinanso budget ya chaka chonse koma kungolowa mumathumba a anthu wowerengeka chabe. Ndiufiti kutero!

  8. Ganyavu says:

    DPP mbuzi za anthu ndithu and kupanda kuzachenjela 2019 ndithu tizawola tili moyo especially agalu nose munavotela DPP.

  9. Lhomwe Belt says:

    These two Mortuary Cases Peter and Badall should go to hell about now!

  10. chefourpence says:

    A one sided assesment Thom! Whats the trend out there with donor support? They are withdrawing all over! Add that in your assesment Thom. As a matter of fact, your argument here is simple, K92 billion cashgate whatsoever equals donor support. Maybe yes and maybe no. And the personal attacks! Really Thom? Should we as a nation resign to our bed and cry for donor support only? Lets think hard about what we produce and export. Actually, you guys were a bit silent with these analyses when JB &co ransacked our coffers! Reason, your cronies were in it! The K92 billion audit report is out but its strange that some of us are smelling blood frm someone. And stop peddling this donor money bull…. When you are in Azunguland! We need our own, its a gradual process I agree, but your donors should not Lord it over us. We will struggle but we will grow.

  11. Duntu says:

    Peter & Gondwe are taking Malawians for granted. Peter must consult the spirit of his late bro & ask what malawians are capable of doing.

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    Dear Malawians, this time of 0 defit could have started years back like our neibors TZ, ZAM, &c.
    Goodall is raising taxes on private sector so that the donor 40% is found. If Goodal doesn’t tax us, where will he get it apart from us?
    Our cry is genuine and it is supposed to come out. Sometimes it’s good to accept and later get used rather than keep on complaining.
    A change is never welcome espe lly when it is painful, but all the same we are to tread this thorny road. And this is the time; triggered by cashgate.
    Pals it is difficult to accept change, for our mindset of relying on donors has been there since we were born.
    Malawi is the poorest country, where will Gondwe get the 40%?
    Let us accept reality not throwing stones to other people.

  13. Kadakwiza says:

    The problem here is not Goodall Gondwe. The problem is that Malawi has no money. Malawi is poor. The question is, why Malawi is poor? For 52 years now, Malawi is very poor. Why? If you can find the answer then, Malawi will become economic indepedent. Until then all those who call themselves economists in in Universities in Malawi are all useless. Goodall Gondwe there is nothing he can do right now, because there is no money to manage. DPP government must just swallow their pride and go back to Mr. DONOR, kneel down and beg for 40% budget support. Malawians there is nothing we can do right now because our we don’t have enough manufacturing companies. We export very little. But instead we import at least everything. So Mr. Loose cannon leave Hon Goodall Gondwe alone for now. He is just Minister of papers of money and not minister of real cash,

  14. all-i-can-say says:

    A fair assessment of the works of Goodall and company. These old guys are a waste of space and have nothing more to offer. Developed economies are investing heavily in information and communication infrastructure to make sure each and every citizen has affordable access to information. Do these guys understand this or their motive is more on the lines of suppressing freedom of expression? As an economist or more like retired economist, Goodall Gondwe should appreciate that modern economies are heavily reliant on knowledge sharing and we should be moving in that direction of enabling Malawians access knowledge they would not have access to without the internet. We can always learn from Rwanda!!

    As for MRA, they only look after Amwenye and always harassing indigenous small scale business people at every turn. Shame on our public service!!

    1. Kanthu Ako!! says:

      You are an idiot, how can you spend time talking all this rubbish.

      You are talking about developed economies, investing in information, Yes they use their own resources. Does Malawi have resources to spend on information, while people are starving and are sick. Do dead people speak on the phone in Malawi?

      You can see how idiotic your comment is.

      In the UK, where most of the Aid withheld came from, they have caped wage increase in public sector to 0.75%-1%. and you the beggars want 200%, what kind of stupidity is that? and its Gondwes fault?

      Believe it or not if you anyone else as Finance minister, the game would have ended long time ago.

  15. MMalawi says:

    I agree with most of the article but I would also want to point out something radical or that many wouldn’t say because it comes out of cash gate scandal is that because money was with cashgaters and most of them where building houses and growing their businesses, money actually was available to the local man and this allowed businesses to flourish as there was disposal income.

  16. Dr Mbewe says:

    I feel your analysis is good

  17. ras says:

    In 1950s-1960s Malawians fought for independence, others died they fought without fear of death and now we’re here enjoying freedom the people we even don’t know fought for. So I think it’s our time sit down and think on becoming economically independent. Yes we will suffer but eventually we will grow and improve therefore the next generation will enjoy Malawi of economically independent. Koma tikachita matha kuti awa akachoka tivutika aaah , ayi patokha sititha Malawi can not develop with them awawa azitipatsa ya sima kuti tisafe ndinjala basi not for developing our country,,,why fearing to suffer kozani njila kuti Malawi azakhale wabwino patsongolo ,,ngati athu azeru ngati inu muopa ndiye ifeyobwa

  18. Analyst says:

    They say we should try to provide or suggest solutions to the many challenges we are facing instead of criticising the power that might be. Here is another piece full of wisdom. It doesn’t have to take some consultant to extract bits of suggestions and ideas from this nice piece. Well said and to the point

  19. nthandalanda says:

    Thanks for reminding makapewa! Keep on doing This!

  20. umoja says:

    Malawi is at a cross roads until we Malawians appreciate what it takes to be a nation, then and only then we will enjoy our humanity. All this economic hardship, perceived and real, is due to the fact that we have stopped thinking like a team and as a nation. We are too fragmented to think like one family in order to overcome our hardships together. The day when we understand unity, hardwork and focus, that will be the time we will move forward. Govt is not about who, or from where the president comes but it is about building a common vision and prosperity for all. We should be prepared to understand our roles and actions in what we do. Unfortunately we can not do without politics but we should understand our roles as a people and how we can be part of the society that prospers in everyway. Money is not the issue, the issue is how we access it. Umodzi Party has a vision that if taken seriouly without people being emotional or nostalgic about MCP and other parties, can transform Malawi for good.

  21. Ghetto Salvation says:

    Lose Cannon bambo… Munthu wankulu

  22. nyg says:

    I agree wth what u’ve written but, desist from blaming DPP & Goodall only. u r not a baby not 2 know that the situation Malawi finds herself in has come from afar. U Know The Behaviour of donors in determing the value of the kwacha. remember wat JB did in her tenure.wat surprises u now? Malawians, recognise that the Zero Aid budget is in response 2 donors’ decision not 2 gv aid 2 malawi. wat budget wud u av prepared if u were Goodall? It’s Good 2 criticise constructively!

  23. cs says:

    GOODAL IS REALLY BEING CAUGHT UP WITH AGE SUCH THAT WHATEVER HE IS PREACHING ABOUT OUR AILING ECONOMY IS NOT SOMETHING TO GO ABOUT ,THE PRESIDENT AND THE WHOLE WHOLE NATION IS BEING FOOLED BY THIS OLD ECONOMIST FELLOW. WHAT WE NEED NOW IS DiVINE INTERVENTION OTHERWISE WE ARE TO PERISH. HELP OUR NATION LORD.

  24. Mika Kumbire says:

    What about the most recent cash gate? If we have a chance let’s forget about aid or budget support; Amayi managed to steal the entire 40% and the economy managed to tick. We don’t need budget support. It just promotes corruption and extravagance!! In fact that’s why donors have stopped supporting the 40% budget contribution. It was excess cash.

  25. makito says:

    Spot on Thom. I once alluded the fact that Goodall is one Malawi’s toxic liabilities.

  26. Wistombi says:

    Oga No Wonder Typical MbwenuBwenu At Work

  27. ambewe says:

    Donors don’t trust the DPP guys to be honest. Bingu administration stole a lot now elections were rigged as well up to the extent of burning a warehouse of MEC why not burning other warehouses why this one which was under investigation. This is hw u can know that DPP are crooks

  28. Dr Ben Phiri says:

    Pitara is killer robbot. He is here to kill us. I blame southerners for voting this mabi

  29. Bornface c Mwale says:

    Fake Government

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