MCP trashes ‘raw deal’ budget: Njobvuyalema says Malawi Pres. Banda ‘took govt on silver-platter’

Main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) on Monday tore apart the 2013/14 National Budget, describing it as lacking hope for Malawians and a “lifeless document”.

In its response to the budget Finance Minister Ken Lipenga presented in Parliament last Friday, MCP said Lipenga presented a budget that has political rhetoric other than a financial plan.

MCP spokesperson on finance Joseph Njobvuyalema delivered a strongly worded response to the budget statement, pointing out that the People’s Party government is running a “false economy with a counterfeit characteristic”.

“It merely reflects the desperate intentions of the Government to use the budget to gain political sympathy and votes,” he said.

He accused the PP government of “experimenting” policies on impoverished Malawians while the ruling elite are swimming in wealth and good lifestyle.

Njobvuyalema: The budget lacks life to address the plight of Malawians
Njobvuyalema: The budget lacks life to address the plight of Malawians

Njobvuyalema said the budget statement by Lipenga is an admission on the part of government that it has failed to run affairs of the country, thereby must swiftly relinquish power to allow leaders who have a clue to run the show rather than experimenting on poor Malawians with “such a lifeless document”.

“This economy is making us believe that Government is in charge when actually this Government has abandoned the responsibility of protecting its own people from the hard knock effects of the economy reforms. This is a false economy because while the Minister vociferously claims that we are recovering, the true picture on the ground is not one of recovery but further marginalisation and poverty. The so called recovery is only lip-service recovery,” said Njobvuyalema.

He also wondered why government is touting the availability of fuel in filling stations as a sign that the economy is healing, saying the negative effects of the 49 percent devaluation of the kwacha include the erosion of purchasing power of Malawians.

“Why celebrating fuel availability when people have [abandoned] their vehicles because they cannot afford its price?” queried Njobvuyalema.

He also bemoaned the rising cost of living.

“The way domestic debt stock is piling is not at all a sign of a recovering economy. At the moment, Domestic Debt stock is around K170 billion. And we have reports of how Government is still hungry to borrow more from the Reserve Bank using Treasury Bills,” said Njobvuyalema.

Njobvuyalema said the  budget is “close to a raw deal”, adding that “i I]t is a dangerous fiscal plan and simply electioneering and politicking budget which will end into a huge deficit.”

He said the budget  has removed too many taxes without compensatory revenue measures.

“Government must immediately abandon this counterfeit process, stop falsifying this economy, and the Minister of Finance should give us a true budget, not this counterfeit budget,” he said.

Njobvuyalema also  slammed  President Banda for her recent attack on  the country’s media accusing it of being responsible for death of her predecessor President Bingu wa Mutharika who died following a heart attack in April last year.

The stunning accusation was made when the Malawi leader met members of the Media Institute for Southern Africa Malawi Chapter who requested her to sign a continental declaration aimed at getting head of states commit to press freedom.

The MCP lawmaker said President Banda’s widely quoted remarks were “careless and irresponsible statement from someone who took over government on a silver platter.”

But his statement triggered a reaction from government as Leader of the House, Henry Phoya stood on the point of order, saying President Banda ascended to power through a Constitutional requirement as she was elected to next-in-line to take over power.

Phoya, who is Minister of Lands and Housing, explained that President Banda “campaigned vigorously alongside the main ticket holder [late Bingu wa Mutharika].”

Njobvuyalema also dared government on the State House expenditures urging the opposition block in the House not to allocate more funds to the state residences, observing that the institution is “suffering from financial hemorrhage”.

MCP president John Tembo has already been on record tearing apart the budget, saying “it is not touching on the life of a villager.”

But some commentators have hailed the budget as encouraging.

Lipenga presented a K638.2 billion (about $1.5bn) budget, which is 57 percent higher than the approved 2012/13 K406 billion (about $1bn) and 36 percent above the revised K469 billion (about $1.1bn) plan in nominal terms.

In his statement, Lipenga said the key objective of the 2013/14 budget is to restore macro-economic balance and a market-based economy that will consolidate the economic reforms government embarked on in 2012.

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