Spokesperson of finance for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Kusamba Dzonzi has described Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe‘s Budget as “a mish-mash of recycled announcements” that will not translate into any gains for poor Malawian.
He said Malawi needed a people’s budget rather than one with random promises.
Dzonzi said the 2018/19 financial blueprint which has been pegged at K1.5 trillion is promising paradise but cautioned that it will hurt Malawians in the long run.
“My prayer is that our colleagues in government will not eat into the purchasing power, because no one will be safe. This budget will give us hell; it is just a wish list,” he said.
Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Rhino Chiphiko, who is also MCP legislator, bemoaned the fact that government has allocated funds to institutions and activities that don’t generate growth or development to the country.
While spokesperson on finance for People’s Party (PP) in Parliament John Chikalimba wondered why government has allocated billions of funds to non-priority areas.
Chikalimba, who is legislator for Zomba Changalume, cited the allocation of K5 billion for tree planting and care programme, which is expected to employ 10 000 youths, as a waste of public funds and a misallocation of resources.
According to Gondwe, the objective of this programme is “to equip the youth with knowledge, skills and ethics as a way of nurturing them for a career in the Civil Service as well as in the private sector.”
But Chikalimba has argued that there are key priority areas such as electricity, water, health and agriculture that need urgent attention and that it is naïve on the part of government to allocate such a huge sum just for reforestation.
He said: “The minister said 1 000 medical staff will be recruited during this financial year, but the figure is on the lower side, because it is laughable to allocate K5 billion for tree planting and recruit only 1 000 nurses to be caring for millions of lives.”
Meanwhile, major donors have ruled out any possibility of resuming direct budget support contrary to what Gondwe boasted about the coming back of some donors to support the budget, after they had pulled out following revelations of massive plunder of public resources widely known as Cashgate in 2013.
EU Ambassador Marchel Gerrmann said, according to quotes reported by Weekend Nation, that the impression that the EU will soon resume direct budget support was wrong.
He stressed that Brussels remains willing to support the budget if government meets the agreed set standards. The EU envoy also expressed disappointment with persistent corruption in the public sector, citing poor procurement systems as a cause for concern.
“We need to see progress on those areas and once that progress is there, and if the government can maintain macroeconomic stability, we would be willing to resume budget support. But we are not there yet and from that perspective it would have been prudent for the minister not to include the EU budget support in the budget,” Gerrmann stressed.
British High Commissioner Holly Tett also is quoted by the paper saying London will continue supporting Malawi off budget. She, like the EU also urged Capital Hill to ensure fiscal prudence in view of the forthcoming elections.
“There is still a huge problem with corruption. We are also quite aware of a number of corruption cases which often pass through our desks and this highlights that the problem is not yet addressed,” said Tett.
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