MCP accuses President Banda for ‘travelling too much’

Malawi Congress Party (MCP), financial spokesperson Joseph Njovuyalema has gone against the undertaking by his party president John Tembo not oppose current government when he accused President Joyce Banda of travelling too much at the expense of tax payers .

MP for Lilongwe-Mapuyu South, who also tore apart government’s financial plan for 2012/13 unveiled last Friday, said there was unhappiness about the ‘frequent’ overseas trips by the new President.

He said the President need to cut down on foreign trips in order to reflect on the austerity and recovery measurers of the financial blue print.

“Mr Speaker Sir, since Her Excellency ascended to the presidency, she has already travelled to 6 countries in Africa and oversees,” said Njovuyalema.

Njobvuyalema: President Joyce Banda traveling too much

“Her Excellency has been to Republic of South Africa, she has been to Liberia, she has been to Nigeria, Her Excellency has also been to Mozambique, and recently she has gone to UK and United States of America, all within a short period of 2 months,” said the lawmaker.

He described the trip to Liberia as an example of wastage of public resources.

On this the MCP spokesperson on finance said in the context of good public finance management, Parliament needs to approve funds only for that external travel which are essential.

He suggested that all non essential or low priority travel needs to be pended as Malawi is still struggling with the economy

“In the context of good public finance management, Parliament needs to approve funds only for that external travel which is essential,” Njovuyalema said.

“Mr Speaker Sir, I don’t have a problem with Her Excellency travelling, but I have a problem with the President travelling all the way to Liberia just to shake hands with her fellow female Head of State, if that indeed was the purpose. I have a problem with Her Excellency travelling simply to shake hands with the President of Nigeria,” he said.

“Is this the way our beloved first female President will be travelling? Or is it that Her Excellency would like to enjoy the luxury of the Presidential Jet before it is sold off as suggested,” said Njobvuyalema.

But government has said foreign trips undertaken by President Banda are calling the world’s attention to Malawi’s investment potential and called on critics to be objective in their analyses.

Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu trips abroad are necessary and broadly the best to attract foreign investment that creates jobs and alleviates poverty.

On new tax measures announced as safety net, Njovuyalema said: “Our concern is on the extension of tax free threshold for PAYE from K12, 000 to K15,000 is too little an adjustment considering the high cost of living.

“ The cost of living for an average household is over K40,000. It would make a lot of sense if the tax free threshold was moved to K20,000.”

Njovuyalema said the  2012/13 budget has failed to mitigate the effects of devaluation on the most people population.

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