Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha on Friday presented the K2.2 trillion 2020/21 financial blue print, which governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali has described it as a campaign budget.
Malawi is going to polls on June 23 after both the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the May 21 2019 presidential election was marred by gross irregularities and further ordered a fresh election within 150 days of the February 3 ruling.
In his quick reaction to the budget statement, Munthali said: “It’s certainly a campaign budget, and the last desperate attempt to woe voters after several failed attempts to stop the fresh elections.”
However, Munthali pointed out that the problem with campaign budgets is that they are not sustainable and often not feasible in as far as implementation is concerned.
“Because of that they become breading grounds for looting and abuse of resources. Furthermore, they run counter to already existing development frameworks such as MGS III,” he said.
In his budget statement with an admission that it will be tough to implement amid economic situation caused by the novel coronavirus, Mwanamvekha disclosed that government will phase out the collection of spot fines for traffic offences and instead, it is procuring Personal Digital Assistance devices that will be connected to government accounts and used to pay fines.
Among other things, the Treasury czar announced that Chiefs will now be allowed to purchase one duty free vehicle for every five years.
Government has also introduced medical insurance for chiefs from Sub Traditional Authority level.
He also announced that 100 000 vulnerable people, including elderly farmers and child-headed families will get free fertiliser and seeds.
Education gets lions share at K387. 9 billion representing 19.2 percent of the budget with Mwanamvekha insists government has completed constructing a water system at the controversial and yet-to-be constructed Mombera University, adding that so far, 7.2 kilometre stretch of a campus road network has been constructed at the site.
Mwanamvekha also said t in an effort to empower women and the youth to participate in the country’s economic activities, government has increased the loan allocation to the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund to K15.0 billion.
“Out of this amount, K2.0 billion will be dedicated to be accessed by women and youth who have been directly affected by Covid-19.
Mwanamvekha said the fund is aimed at economically empowering and uplifting the lives of Malawians by providing them with high quality and sustainable microfinance services thereby reducing levels of unemployment through enhancement of entrepreneurship.
In fiscal plan, K27.3 billion has been allocated towards the procurement of medical drugs and supplies, of which K11.7 billion is for central hospitals and K15.6 billion is for district hospitals.
Radio and Television equipment now to be imported duty free to promote access to media.
The Minister also unveiled that income tax free band is now at K50 000 from K45 000.
“Madam Speaker, the financial year 2020/2021 budget seeks to speed up economic recovery, infrastructure development and economic empowerment for the vast majority of our people, including the youth, women and the physically challenged.
“It further aims to ride on the macroeconomic stability so far achieved during the past three fiscal years and build a resilient economy capable of withstanding unforeseen shocks,” said Mwanamvekha.
A national budget is a promise to the people.
The House has since adjourned until Monday when members will go into clusters to scrutinise the budget votes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :