Malawi’s President Banda announces austerity drive

Malawi President Joyce Banda, in an effort to resuscitate the country’s rotten economy and overcome people’s poverty, has sketched out a number of  austerity measures aimed at cutting back unnecessary government expenditure.

The President also declared that there will be no honey moon for his ministers, government top officials and statutory corporation executives most of whom just spend time globetrotting.

Banda sent the tremors Friday in Parliament when she opened the 2012-2013 Budget Session and also presented her first ever State of the Nation Address since becoming President on April 7, 2012.

She said “first priority” for her administration is “to launch a national austerity drive.”

“Government has set up a Cabinet Committee to determine what to do with the presidential jet: whether to sale it or lease it out,” she said.

Late Mutharika bought the French made Dassault Falcon 900 EX presidential aircraft in 2009 at around K3.4 billion, a development that irked development partners who said it was a grave drain on the country’s already skimpy resources.

According to reports, projected costs for maintenance and insurance for the jet hover around K45-K50 million a year.

Another measure, the Malawi leader said, was the reduction of the over exaggerated presidential motorcade which drains hundreds of kwachas every time the president is on the road.

She said: “I have asked my advisors on how we can review even the presidential motorcade.”

During the previous regime, the presidential convoy used to have not less than 10 vehicles for security, ambulance, party zealots, among others.

A few days after President Banda was sworn-in, Malawi First Gentleman Retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, SC, refused to use a larger-than-life convoy that was given to him by the state house officials on his private errand.

She also spoke tough on corruption, saying:”We will curb excesses in government procurement, and we will stamp out corruption. We will redirect government efforts in monitoring and surveillance system to this sector. We will strengthen governance and accountability institutions such as the Anti Corruption Bureau and the Auditor General.”

Banda said the culture of officials “mending their roofs”  at the expense of the public purse must be eliminated.

“Those who abuse public funds must account for their actions,” she said.

President Banda with MPs posing for the media. Photo by Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

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