Opposition Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM) president Mark Katsonga has advised government to take a step further on the fertilizer subsidy programme which is facing continued irregularities from politicians and officials alike.
Corruption, delayed distribution, coupons ending up in wrong hands and being sold at exorbitant prices are some of the issues covered in the party’s paper: “Reflect 2012 and Forecast 2013”.
Katsonga also told journalists that government must urgently act on sand being found in fertiliser bags and the subsidy product being exported to neighboring countries.
“PPM finds it extremely disappointing to note that hardly six months after the death of the champion of the programme (late president Bingu wa Mutharika) over two million Malawians still face hunger. This is evidence that the subsidy program does not have an effective and sustainable result on the population,” he said.
The party also warned authorities against politicising the programme and advised that State House leads in efforts to make find and adopt a transparent and sustainable programme that effectively supports subsistence farmers.
“The current farm inputs distribution system has removed dignity from the intended beneficiaries by reducing them into beggars, including traditional leaders who are humiliated by the leadership for favouring family members,” he added.
At this juncture, he said, is it necessary for the PPM to express concern over the laxity on the part of government in its failure to conduct a transparent audit of the program for both the tax payers and the intended beneficiaries to appreciate contributions to the national food security program.
“As things are now, it is as if the money used to buy the subsidized farm inputs comes from the pockets of the President and her party members,” he charged.
The paper also touched on devaluation of the Kwacha versus forex shortage on devaluation, which the party said continues to stifle business productivity locally and for foreign investors who opt to relocate to the neighbouring countries.
Katsonga also said the continued fuel shortage as a result of forex shortages has caused a lot of suffering throughout the country, resulting in low resource capacity utilization, low productivity and massive job losses.
He then deplored Automatic Fuel Pricing Adjustment Mechanism Malawi has adopted lately works well in developed and rich countries cushioned by a strong currency.
“For Malawi, it has worked the opposite due to our weak currency. It has had a negative impact on commodity prices leading to very high inflation,” said Katsonga.
His paper also questions unfinished development projects like the Shire Zambezi Waterway, University of Science and Technology, the Green Belt Initiative, rehabilitation of Kamuzu Highway to connect Blantyre and Limbe, Chitakale Jali Road, and Thyolo-Thekerani Road.
The party also questions donor position on their promises of steady inflow of aid; continued delay of civil servants salaries; exorbitant out-of-court case settlements when courts were created to adjudicate cases in a transparent manner.
“This can easily be construed as corruption as the settlements are conducted by two people in private. We have consequently seen a number of claimants being compensated handsomely in secret. Consequently more claims are flocking to government from cross section of the citizens including politicians,” he worried.
Katsonga’s paper ends by asking the President to delegate some of her assignments such as distribution of disaster and relief aid as her travels locally and internationally are expensive for poor Malawians. The president should travel only when absolutely necessary, says the party.
The paper also bemoaned poor sanitation in cities and the frequent blackouts and water shortages, requesting government to get such services reorganized and restructured to achieve optimum productivity for the benefit of all.
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