Leader of opposition Lobin Lowe of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has described the 2019/20 National Budget as “the same, old song” and doubt the capacity for government to implement the fiscal plan.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha on Monday presented his maiden full budget whose nominal value in terms of total expenditure has been pegged at K1.7 trillion, representing 27.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Lowe speaking on Times Radio said Mwanamvekha “has not been inspiring” in bringing transformation in economic recovery, saying the budget is more of a recycled political campaign promises in previous fiscal plans.
“Listening to the minister’s presentation of the budget, I think it’s the same old song, they are just carrying the same issues they said in the previous budget. It’s like a campaign budget,” said Lowe, standing-in for Lazarus Chakwera who has not taken the post as he is challenging the May 21 presidential elections in Constitution Court.
Lowe said instead of Mwanamvekha promising new things, the opposition would have liked if government demonstrated how they implemented some of the things they are touting.
“They are saying government will construct 10 000 houses of men and women in uniform when they only managed to construct 36 in the last budget,” he said.
“I would appreciate if there is mechanism that they can demonstrate how they achieved in the previous budget,” said Lowe.
But Mwanamvekha said President Peter Mutharika highlighted some of the major achievements in the State of the Nation Address in June.
He noted that some of the major achievements during the five years were the stabilisation of the economy and government is committed to consolidate and safeguard the gains in order to transform Malawi economically.
Mwanamvekha chronicled some of the achievements, saying in education government completed a number of projects including the construction of Open Distant Learning Centres for public universities, lecture theatres, modern ICT facilities and science laboratories at the Polytechnic and Chancellor College.
Furthermore, he said government has constructed and rehabilitated 23 technical and community colleges for youth skills development.
In the energy sector, Mwanamvekha said government successfully completed the Malawi-Zambia Interconnector which has greatly improved power supply to industries and people of Malawi.
“Under the Millennium Challenge Account, government has rehabilitated and modernised the Nkula A Hydro Power plant which has increased generations’ capacity and constructed new transmission lines and rehabilitated old ones for more power carrying capacity,” he said.
Mwanamvekha said government has also completed the construction of the Mzuzu-Nkhatabay road, the Mangochi-Liwonde road, the Zomba-Jali-Phalombe-Chitakale Road, the Lilongwe old airport-Kasiya-Santhe Road and the Parliament-Bingu Stadium dual carriage way.
He also said city roads as well as street lighting in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Zomba and Blantyre were successfully completed and launched.
Finance minister said President Mutharika has “achieved a lot over the last five years of his administration.”
On his part, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance, Sosten Gwengwe, said the budget has a lot of shortfalls.
The budget session has meanwhile been adjourned to allow parliamentary committees to scrutinise the budget.
Mwanamvekha, throughout his presentation, repeatedly said the budget is anchored on ensuring debt sustainability, inclusive growth as well as economic empowerment—is an increase of 20.1 percent from the 2018/19 preliminary outcome of K1.4 trillion.
Out of the total planned expenditure, K1.3 trillion, which is 20.6 percent of GDP, is under recurrent expenditure while K437.9 billion (representing 7.0 percent of GDP) is provided for the development budget.
At 7 percent of GDP, development expenditure in the 2019/20 Budget is the highest in recent years, as in the 2018/19 Budget, development spending was revised to 5.7 percent of GDP while in the previous financial year of 2017/18, it was recorded at 4.6 percent of the country’s total wealth as measured but GDP.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :