People’s Party (PP) spokesperson on finance Ralph Jooma has accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP0 government of selective implementation of the austerity measures, saying the strongman Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation George Chaponda is busy globetrotting despite the travel ban.
Jooma was speaking in Parliament on Monday in his response to the Mid-Term Budget Review Statement.
Said Jooma of Chaponda: “He travels on his own. He travels where His Excellency the President is going and he also travels where His Excellency the President has decided not to go. He travels and travels and travels to the extent that he risks being declared a non-resident of Malawi.”
However, Chaponda who is regarded as a preferred successor to President Peter Mutharika, queried Jooma citing Standing Order 100 -as a matter of error – instead of Standing Order 99 that prohibit the reflection on the President, Cabinet ministers, judges and others during debate.
Chaponda explained that international travels that officials from his ministry undertake are of great importance especially in fulfilling Malawi’s commitments towards the international community.
“The honorable member made those remarks without knowing the roles of the minister of foreign affairs. What we have to understand is that Malawi is party to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the United Nations and several other international organizations and Malawi needs to be taking part in the various meetings that may be taking place.
“Unlike in the past era of the Peoples Party led government, things are very different now. Even the State President has only travelled quite a few times out of this country. But in cases where the president has not travelled, there is always still a need for Malawi to be represented in these meetings.”
Speaker Richard Msowoya ruled Jooma’s remarks out of order and that be struck off the Hansard.
In his budget response, Jooma, a former minister of Economic Planning and Development during the Joyce Banda administration, also said government should not cut budget on maize.
He bemoaned the downward revision of the budget allocated to buy maize from K15 billion to K8.5 billion at a time when the country will have inadequate maize to take Malawians to the next harvest.
“If government think they have enough maize to take us to the next harvest season, some of us do not think so because we cannot see the maize,” said Jooma.
He noted that the first half funding was less than K3.5 billion, saying “doesn’t this explain why the majority in this country are going to bed without food.”
Jooma said Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe should be worried that domestic revenues have under performed by K12 billion and import duty by K3 billion.
“This is a strange outturn considering that devaluation pushes import tax revenues upwards. But if it is a sign that importation itself has dwindled then we should expect even much less taxes on income next year,” he said.
He said every financial plan “must take us closer to where we want to be.”
Jooma said it is counterproductive and back peddling to begin reducing already approved budget.
In October last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) asked Malawi to revise its budget downwards to reflect economic realities on the ground.
But Jooma described Gondwe’s proposed revision of the budget from K929 billion to K906 billion as a wrong reflection in real value in the wake of the rate at which the kwacha has depreciated against the dollar since the national budget was passed in July 2015.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :