Minister of Lands and Housing Atupele Muluzi has said government officials will soon visit Dedza east to ask traditional leaders if indeed they do not need the subsidised malata and cement programme following MP Juliana Lunguzi’s request for its suspension.
Muluzi told the state controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) that it was surprising that the Dedza East legislator is seeking the suspension of the programme which he said is benefitting the poorest of the poor in all constituencies and government wants to find out from the people in the area whether the views of their MP Lunguzi represents their wishes.
This was after Lunguzi urged the government in parliament to seriously consider suspending the programme in view of the economic turmoil the country is facing and relocate the K7 billion financial resources to the education sector, one of the worst hit due to severe budget cuts.
Lunguzi said: “The government can shelve this programme now. Malawi is at economic crossroads. Instead, let the government subsidise production so that people can build houses on their own. The beautiful houses we are seeing now were built by people themselves not the government.”
Lunguzi said during debate on the subject that was brought in the House by Mzimba Sosola MP Jacob Hara.
“I know this is a political issue but we should stop politicising development programmes. Poor students are failing to pay secondary school fees, they are failing to pay college fees and yet we are subsidising the malata and cement. We are joking. Your children are in private schools because you can afford but people in my constituency cannot afford,” she said.
The World Bank, other donors and economists are also urging the government to stop the subsidy programmes which they say is a drain on public coffers in these harsh economic times.
Rumphi East MP Kamlepo Kalua asked for a thorough forensic audit report which he said should be presented in the House.
This was after it was revealed that parliament approved K14 billion for the malata and cement programme for last year and this year yet the government is struggling to build 80 houses in each constituency as promised y the government last year.
Muluzi promised that the audit reports would be made available.
He said there were some delays due to teething problems but assured the House that by next year, the government would construct over 15000 houses through the programme and that it translates to 160 houses per constituency.
Responding to Lunguzi, Muluzi said students cannot have very good education if they live in deplorable conditions.
He said the target of the programme is the poor people who aspire to live in decent houses but cannot afford due to grinding poverty.
The minister said the government was ready to withdraw the programme from Dedza east if the MP insists, saying she could not appreciate the programme because she came from a wealthy family.
The MP is daughter to Mac William Lunguzi the last inspector general of police in one party Malawi Congress Party led government.
Muluzi also said the programme has created 35000 jobs.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :