The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has called on government to redesign the Farm Inputs Subsidy Program (FISP).
MCP parliamentary spokesperson on finance Joseph Njobvuyalema said the way the program was designed is failing short to meet its goals of having a food secured nation but rather enrich some sections of the business community and political leaders.
“FISP was designed in a such a way that it should benefit the elderly and needy. Our wish as a party is to see that those who can manage to produce enough should also be given a chance to have access to subsidized farm inputs,” he said.
As the National Assembly is expected to meet to discuss the 2014/2015 national budget, Njobvuyalema said the party will meet soon to look into what they expect from FISP.
“We all know that the economy is in shambles, so we will go for a recovery budget. As a party, we will not be used to bootlick any program that is on the table, we will look at what is best for Malawi,” he said.
President Peter Mutharika in his inaugural speech said his government will continue with Fisp whose cost to the economy has ranged from six percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 16 percent between 2006 and 2013.
Analysts have argued that the initiative has failed to ensure sustainable household food security and reduce poverty. They have called for Fisp to be phased out and divert the resources to other productive agricultural activities such as the Greenbelt Irrigation Initiative.
But Finance minister Goodall Gondwe defended the programme, saying it was behind the high economic growth rates registered in Malawi between 2006 and 2010.
Since 2006, funding to Fisp has risen sharply. It was K2.2 billion in the 2005/06 national budget, jumped to K5.5 billion the following year, hit K10.7 billion in the 2007/08 fiscal year calendar and settled at K19.4 billion in 2008/09 (which was later revised upwards to K29.4 billion) before falling slightly to K17.8 billion 2009/10, the year the price of a subsidised 50-kg bag of fertiliser dropped further from that starting price of K900 to K500.
The Fisp allocation picked up again in 2010/11 to hit K19.7 billion, dropped to K17.4 billion in 2011/12 and more than doubled to K40 billion in 2012/13.