MPs allow Malawi govt to borrow K13bn for Masaf IV project

Parliament Friday allowed Government to borrow from the International Development Association (IDA) funds amounting to US$32.8 million (which is equivalent to MK 13.12 billion) for purposes of implementing the MASAF IV project.

Speaking during the presentation of the Bill in Parliament Minister of Finance, Dr Goodal Gondwe said the proposed project would be a second-generation safety-nets program, which would improve key safety-net programs such as Cash for Productive Community Public Works through the Local Development Fund (LDF), Social Cash Transfer, and Livelihoods and Skills Development through Community Savings and Investment Program (COMSIP).

“Apart from that some of the resources will be used for program management and the MASF IV project will have three components and these are; Productive Safety-Nets, Systems and Capacity Building; and Project Management,” Gondwe said.

Lilian Patel: UDF supports the bill
Lilian Patel: UDF supports the bill

Gondwe articulated that government realizes the importance of having a robust and sustainable safety-nets program in place as these are important when it comes to the protection of the poor and vulnerable whose livelihoods are always under threat due to natural and unnatural causes hence the coming of this bill.

He added that government will finance transfers for multiple Productive Community Driven Public Works, which are aimed at increasing communities and household livelihood opportunities and assets. He says through this component, government will finance projects that have been identified by the communities as priority projects.

“These community projects that will be considered under this component shall among other things range from water supply and irrigation, aforestation and bridge construction,” he said.

The Minister of Finance also commended IDA for providing this loan to the government of Malawi.

In response to the presentation of the bill, Member of Parliament for Lilongwe South Peter Dimba who spoke on behalf of MCP said that MCP support the bill because it seeks to raise funds for extra poor people and other important developments, but cautioned on excessive borrowing.

“However, as MCP we are worried with the tendency of government borrowing money from external sources because this will make Malawi leave the future generation with debts instead of inheritance therefore we advise the current government to reduce the habit of borrowing money,” Dimba said.

Representing UDF, MP for Mangochi South, Lillian Patel said UDF highly supports the bill because in the bill there is an element of MASAF which is a success story of UDF.

Besides, she said the money is targeted for the poor and UDF is okay with borrowing money for such purposes.

PP also supported the bill through their Mzimba North parliamentarian Agness Nyalonje, but it highly contested that it is high time Malawi stopped the habit of borrowing money a thing which saw the Minister of Finance defending the act of borrowing itself saying all countries in the world do borrow money from external sources and they develop their countries through that.

Among other significance, this bill will further provide grants and technical support aimed at increasing household incomes and assets through savings and investment promotion in livelihood opportunities under the famous Community Savings and Investment Promotion (COMSIP) program component which among other things will promote investments which can increase incomes and assets of households and reduce risks of food insecurity and promote better nutrition and health.

The passing of the bill also marked the end of the first meeting of the 44th session of parliament.

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