No basis for resignation, I’m man of integrity -Lipenga

Malawi Finance Minister Dr Ken Lipenga says he does not see any basis on chorus  calls for him to resign after he admitted that Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) borrowed K15 billion to paint a picture that the late Bingu wa Mutharika handwork –Zero Deficit Budget – was working.

Deceased Mutharika introduced the Zero-Deficit Budget after donors suspended their financial support — about 40 percent of Malawi’s budget – and introduced a financial plan to rely on funds collected from taxes.

The borrowing from commercial banks to finance the Budget was exposed by lawmaker George Nnensa in parliament but Lipenga had dismissed the matter at the time.

Lipenga told Capital FM Straight Talkinterview programme on Thursday evening that he will not resign as he sees no basis to the calls being made, saying his conscience is clear.

Lipenga: I won't resign

“I don’t understand the basis for the call for me to resign,” said Lipenga.

Lipenga, who clarified that he has a PhD with literature as his area of specialisation, said he has behaved “with integrity” in the saga.

He said after his own investigation when Nnensa questioned the figures he presented in parliament, he realised “much later” that MRA Commissioner General Lloyd Muhara received instructions from some powerful officials in his ministry to borrow money from the banks.

“I did not know this was happening when the revelation was made in parliament,” said Lipenga.

“It was all done behind my back,” pointed out the Finance Minister.

He informed that MRA paid back the loans to the banks.

Lipenga pleaded innocent of any wrong doing.

“I am a man of profound integrity as far as I see myself,” he said, adding “This is a matter that has been of deep concern to me.

“I certainly can say emphatically that I am not responsible in the sense that I am not the one who issued the authority to go and do this,” he said.

The country’s purse keeper said MRA boss Muhara “has not named any specific person who gave him instruction.”

He said: “I am under impression someone in the ministry gave him instruction.”

Key officials in the Ministry of Finance at that time were Secretary to the Treasury Joseph Mwanamveka – now removed from the post – and Budget Director Dr. Dalitso Kabambe.

The Finance Minister vehemently defended himself, saying “I did not lie to the nation. I only presented figures that were provided to me by my officials.”

Lipenga has served as cabinet minister in the administrations of Bakili Muluzi, Bingu wa Mutharika and now retained by President Joyce Banda.

Asked what has made him to be hired by the three Heads of State in various ministerial portfolios, Lipenga said: “I don’t think am an exception. I have worked with dedication.”

He said he was “grateful” for an opportunity to serve the three presidents.

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