Circle for Integrated Community Development (Cicod) claims that Malawi government is implementing a top-to-bottom budget that does not respect peopleâ€™s potential.
In a statement, Cicodâ€™s executive director, Amos Tizora, called for a more economically empowered society than one that looks up to government for services.
He has since called on government and donors to introduce devaluation impact mitigation incentives for the poor.
“Some mitigation factors could include strengthening social cash transfer to cushion the impact of devaluation, introduction of special loans through banks for the poor especially women, establishing rural-based processing plants for value-addition and include projects that would propel critical thinking for social and economic development for the poor.
“The most vulnerable people in society are women and it is women too who are mostly custodians of orphans. Government, through non-governmental organisations, can introduce a special fund where women can access loans for small-scale businesses,” said Tizora
According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), 80 percent of people in Malawi live in rural areas and live below the one dollar (K268) a day.
On governmentâ€™s recent announcement on the distribution of K5 000 (about $20) to child-headed households, Tizora believes that proportionally, that is a drop in the ocean.
“The 400 households that will benefit from this initiative are just not enough. About 80 percent of the countryâ€™s population are vulnerable and 400 out of the 80 percent are not enough proportionally. Apart from that, there are just few districts selected for this,” he said.
He also argued that the recent 49 percent devaluation of the Malawi kwacha has triggered price increase for goods and services such as electricity, fuel and essential commodities such as salt and sugar, among other things.
“While we commend government for this positive move, the poorest are not favoured in this budget. As an NGO, Cicod feels the national cake has to be equitably shared regardless of oneâ€™s economic status and in this case, the poor are largely left out,” he said.
On the other hand, Cicod commended governmentâ€™s move in abandoning the much-criticised zero-deficit budget, the removal of some taxes, the 21 percent salary hike for civil servants, increasing the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme with 100 000 new beneficiaries as well as the continuation of public works programme.
“Let budget move poor people from culture of silence to culture of self-actualisation. Let the national budget create wealth for the poor,” said Tizora.