Malawi Congress Party (MCP) parliamentary spokesman on finance, Dowa West MP Alexander Dzonzi, on Monday went on a loose cannon mood when he critiqued the proposed 2015/16 National Budget, saying the financial plan is out of sync with the country’s economic realities.
Dzonzi said the DPP-led government is either utterly clueless or has no intention of governing Malawi at all.
He described the budget as a bankers’ budget, where money has been made a product and not a means to production.
Said Dzonzi: “This is why the minister is more engrossed with macro-economic fundamentals such as interest rates and flexible exchange rates without paying attention to the true needs of the productive sectors such as agriculture or manufacturing.”
The MCP lawmaker pointed out that Finance Minister said “literally nothing” on what the government is going to do on the high interest rates let alone on the creation of the producers’ markets.
“The DPP-led government has yet again missed a golden opportunity to use its fiscal powers to turn around the ailing economy. Instead of prescribed long term goals, the government has, once again settled for a consumers’ budget as opposed to a producers’ budget,” he said.
He also said the budget is failing to tell how the “increasing and alarming” employment levels affecting Malawi youths are going to be addressed.
“And indeed, Mr Speaker, Sir, this budget fails to tell us as to how the worsening situation of balance of payment is to be addressed,” he said.
He said MCP has looked at the budget and find out that it is disconnected from Malawi’s economic realities.
Dzonzi said with dwindling resource envelope following donor budgetary support, Malawi will progressively lose its ability to finance most or at least not adequately, social services which hitherto it was able to finance in the past.
“This calls for the implementation of stringent measures aimed at reducing the overall government expenditure,” he said.
“Speaker, Sir, a bloated, redundant civil and public service, a perchance for luxury and gluttony, a growing culture of official incompetence and corruption, a tolerance of economically imprudent and unconscionable expenditure of public resources, Mr Speaker, Sir, are hardly factors conducive for the economy on its deathbed.
“It is important for the government to remember that our budget will be operating in a shrinking revenue condition because MRA is already missing its targets, companies are selling down operations. This Mr Speaker, Sir, calls for government to re-connect with the donors,” said Dzonzi.
The MCP lawmaker said government “must decisively deal” with the present Cash-gate as well as that of the past [K92 bill0n from 2005 to2012].”
He also said MCP is looking for a professional Civil Service, “an apolitical civil service that implements government programmes beyond launching days. “
The lawmaker accused Gondwe for being s contented to pursue the phantoms of reining in the high inflation rate and promising to bring down interest rate by doing nothing more than having a shear optimism.
“This is very strange economics, Mr Speaker, Sir, and it is disturbing to note that the country’s Minister of Finance puts his trust in it,” Dzonzi said.
He said the law empowers the Minister of Finance to use his ingenuity to harness fiscal policy as a tool for economic development.
“I have not seen this in the budget and perhaps it is not fair to expect the DPP- led government to do so.
“Designing a competent economic blueprint, Mr Speaker, Sir, requires political commitment and vision; fiscal prudence and financial acumen, all of which I am forced to conclude, are in short supply in the Democratic Progressive Party ranks. Another area, Mr Speaker, Sir, is that we find this budget as an abdication of the Minister of Finance of this fiscal authority,” pointed out Dzonzi.
He also accused the DPP-led government for allowing a formation of a parallel government within Malawi that has been tasked with the implementation of off-budget programmes.
Dzonzi said the country “is being taken for a ride”, saying the off-budget support utilisation is an illegal activity that is being done with the support of some the development partners, calling for a stop forthwith.
“The fact that the DPP-led government has allowed this to be done in this country is not only a breach of trust given to it by the Malawians but also an abdication of fiscal authority by the Minister of Finance.
“MCP therefore, expects both government and our development partners to follow the country’s prescribed systems and operate within the Public Finance Management Framework.”
In his address, Chairperson of the Budget Committee, Ron Chiphiko noted that unlike most recent budgets, the 2015/2016 Budget has no name or label to highlight its fiscal principles or thematic emphasis.
“Indeed, in the last five years, it has been customary to have a zero-something budget. We started with a Zero-Deficit Budget in 2011/2012, then Zero-Domestic Borrowing Budget and last year we had a Zero-Aid Budget. Not that it matters, but we are wondering, Mr. Speaker, Sir, why we have a nameless budget this year,” said Chiphiko.
Debate on the budget continues in the House.
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