As part of the continued pre-budgetary consultation, The Forum for New Direction (FOND) appeals to government to consider the following areas in the 2012/2013 Budget.
CUSHIONING THE POOR FOLLOWING THE DEVALUATION
Following the Kwacha devaluation, FOND appeals for drastic measures the government must take to protect the vulnerable. Among these FOND appeals for budgetary support/means that will see stability in fuel prices – since any erratic price adjustment is a precursor to equally uncontrolled prices of commodities.
FOND also appeals for upward salary adjustment for workers with a possible percentage margin targeting workers of lower grades. The tax free band on salaries must also be revised upwards from the current K12, 000 plus to K24, 000 plus.
TRANSPARENCY ON KAYELEKERA MINES
Malawians are in the dark on the proceeds government gets from the Uranium mining at Kayelekera in Karonga including finer details of the contract. FOND expects the current government to come clean on this issue and let the nation know. At the time of forex shortage, transparency and accountability of resources is paramount.
Following the news that the Nsanje’s Shire-Zambezi waterway project has been taken back to the drawing table for the feasibility study for an unspecified timeline, the uncertainty calls for a renewed commitment to revive the Mtwara Corridor Project to its course. FOND expects the current budget sitting to put aside resources for reviving/revamping this. Mtwara Corridor project already passed a feasibility study, besides the fact that it opens Malawi from different fronts.
FOND commends government for showing commitment to continuing with the project. However government must guard against abuse by politicians as well as the politicization of the project that has been seen since its inception in Bakili Muluzi’s and Bingu wa Mutharika’s governments.
FOND notes with sadness that due to liberalization and free-market economy, indigenous businesses in tourism area (a potential sector for generating forex), is likely to be monopolized by foreign investors. Key to FOND’S concern is the high demand of lake-shore land and subsequent purchase by foreign investors. FOND is appealing for budgetary support to local investors for loans through such bodies like Indigenous Business Association of Malawi (IBAM).
The government must also come out clearly on job creation drive in the current budget session. Rarely have we heard in the past budgets on resources towards job creation. Unemployment is high and most youth are unemployed.
FOND appeals government/ministry of health for increased budgetary allocation to often neglected health areas, – including Mental Health. A lion’s share has been allocated to curative and preventive medicine; within curative medicine, physical health has tended to take precedence of mental health – witnessed by scarcity of psychiatric drugs for the major part of the ending budgetary year.
Appeal for greater access and affordability of electricity to reduce the effects of climate change.
Further, appeal for construction of the Nyika-Road which has potential to increase tourism and improve economy; and also the construction of the Mzuzu-Nkhatabay road.
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