The 2018/19 financial blueprint which has been pegged at K1.5 trillion is just another “wish list” that will not translate into any gains for poor Malawians, opposition lawmakers have observed.
Reacting to the financial plan presented yesterday by Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, spokesperson on finance for People’s Party (PP) in Parliament John Chikalimba wondered why government has allocated billions of funds to non-priority areas.
Chikalimba, who is legislator for Zomba Changalume, cited the allocation of K5 billion for tree planting and care programme, which is expected to employ 10 000 youths, as a waste of public funds and a misallocation of resources.
According to Gondwe, youths working in groups and in their localities will plant and care for the trees and will be supported by government just like the public works programme.
But Chikalimba has argued that there are key priority areas such as electricity, water, health and agriculture that need urgent attention and that it is naïve on the part of government to allocate such a huge sum just for reforestation.
He said: “The minister said 1 000 medical staff will be recruited during this financial year, but the figure is on the lower side, because it is laughable to allocate K5 billion for tree planting and recruit only 1 000 nurses to be caring for millions of lives.”
Spokesperson of finance for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Kusamba Dzonzi in an interview pointed out that the budget is promising paradise but cautioned that it will hurt Malawians in the long run.
“My prayer is that our colleagues in government will not eat into the purchasing power, because no one will be safe. This budget will give us hell; it is just a wish list,” he said.
On his part, Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Rhino Chiphiko bemoaned the fact that government has allocated funds to institutions and activities that don’t generate growth or development to the country.