Opposition chief, donors hail budget but DPP says ‘crap’

Leader of the Opposition John Tembo and the donor community on Friday showered praise on the 2012/13 national budget Finance Minister Ken Lipenga presented to Parliament in the capital Lilongwe.

But former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) trashed the “recovery budget saying it’s in not designed to be pro-impoverished Malawians.

Speaking in separate interviews outside the new Parliament building, Tembo who is also president of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) described the budget as a difficult financial plan but he was quick to point out that it has brought relief to business people and if business will be stable then this will ease the challenges the ordinary people are facing due to devaluation.

Peter Mutharika: Not pro-poor budget

Tembo said it’s good that government has abandoned the zero deficit budget which the DPP had introduced.

“We should give the People’s Party government (of President Joyce Banda) time to correct the mess DPP had left especially on economy”, said Tembo, adding that it’s not easy for the government to perform any miracle on the economy.

But DPP president Peter Mutharika described the budget as not meant for poor people.

He said there is no immediate intervention to help them due to the devaluation that has hit hard the poor.

Mutharika, however said the budget is mainly depending on donor funding which
the DPP government was trying to move away from.

Cooperating partners take

Africa Development Bank (ADB) representative to Malawi who is also current chair for the Common Approach to Budget Support (CABS) which is a grouping of donors providing direct budget support to Malawi, Andrew Mwamba described the budget as difficult; saying it’s not easy for the current government to start bringing the economy back on track.

On the minister’s call for the donors to disburse its funds to Malawi, the CABS chair said it will depend on how quick individual donor countries will respond to economic reforms that the Banda government would put in place.

According to Mwamba individual countries were just waiting for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) node to start working on the assistance.

CABS is donor group that comprises of the ADB, the European Union,  Norway, the UK amongst others.

EU country representative Alexander Baum said he was happy that the minister has outlined some tax measures that will help to ease the burden of devaluation that has hit hard on poor Malawians.

He cited examples of  fertilizer that has remained at K500 which he said will still help poor farmers to access fertilizer at a reasonable cost.

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