Main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has dubbed the Tonse Alliance first national budget as a wasted opportunity with former Treasury czar Jospeh Mwanamvekha saying the economic fundamentals delivered by Finance Minister Felix Mlusu do not give confidence.
Mwanamvekha, who is DPP spokesperson of finance in Parliament, said he will give a comprehensive response to the budget statement in the House, but in nutshell said he was impressed with measures to enforce fiscal discipline and the revenue mobilisation strategy .
He also said one of the strength of the fiscal plan is the organizing informal sector into cooperatives is transformative both from the perspective of facilitating their growth and from the perspective of broadening tax base.
However, Mwanamvekha pointed out that the budget has failed to, among other things , roll out implementation of the pledged universal fertiliser subsidy , reduced fees for passports, duty free weeks, and zero-connection fees for electricity and water.
“The Tonse Alliance administration has in essence duped Malawians as it first promised to implement a Universal Subsidy but we have seen that it has actually backtracked by bringing a completely different version of targeted subsidy,” said Mwanamvekha in an interview with Nyasa Times in reaction to the 2020/21 budget statement.
He added: “Malawians have been cheated and should be reminded that not all that glitters is gold. The Tonse Alliance administration promised a litany of things to Malawians but they are nowhere in the budget. They promised to take Malawians to Cannan but in actual truth, we are going back to Egypt.”
Mwanamvekha said: “ Most of what was promised by Tonse Alliance has not been provided for in the budget.”
He also accused the Tonse Alliance of “copy and paste” in most of parts of the budget which he said were what the DPP has done.
However, Mlusu defended the Affordable Input Program (AIP), saying it is not far from being a universal subsidy programme.
Mlusu said only 4.2 million farmers will access the cheap fertilizer which will be sold at MK4,495.00 per 50Kg bag.
“This not far from being a universal subsidy program assuming an average family size of four people, which gives approximately 16.8 million people that will be covered under this program out of the 17.6 million people in Malawi.
“Each farming household will purchase two 50 kg bags of fertilizer at a price of MK4, 495.00 per bag.”
Mwanamvekha also pointed out that the national budget has also failed to give Malawians hope in terms of management of coronavirus pandemic.
“The budget has not provided strategies or measures that government, through ministry of finance, will put in place to address the Covid-19 pandemic. In a nutshell, Tonse Alliance government has failed Malawians in management of Covid-19 and in the process we may end up losing more lives as a result of governments’ lack of focus,” he said.
Mwanamvekha further pointed out that the projected K1.179 domestic revenue in the budget is likely to be unattainable.
Said Mwanamvekha: “The economic fundamentals do not give confidence that such amount can be realized.”
He said the development expenditure at 23% continues to be low and lower than estimates in previous years, saying the development component has failed to pass the development budget test as the minimum threshold internationally is 25 percent.
Mwanamvekha accused the Tonse Alliance government of cheating those who voted it to power.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :