Mangochi Monkey Bay legislator Ralph Jooma (People’s Party—PP) has become the latest voice of dissent to the planned cement and iron sheets subsidy which has been allocated K7 billion ($18.4m) in the 2014/15 National Budget.
In his contribution to the budget on Tuesday, Jooma described the subsidy, which will enter its pilot phase this year, as irrational, saying it would benefit only a few Malawians compared to fuel and electricity subsidies that the PP-led government abolished in 2012.
It was the PP government which, prior to the elections, embarked on a housing project called Mudzi Transformation Trust, but the current government has since abolished it.
“We have had subsidies in this country, but if there is one subsidy which is most irrational it is this one. Even at the time when this nation was subsidising electricity and fuel, millions of Malawians were benefiting,” Jooma said.
He told the House that, according to his calculations, only 11 000 Malawians would benefit from the subsidy and these families would need K7 billion to match the allocation going to the created cushion.
Jooma also warned government against cautioning citizens to brace for tough times when the economy had improved since the PP entered government in 2012.
He claimed that since 2009, ministers of Finance have been warning Malawians about tough economic times as a result of global financial meltdown and economic reforms, but he saw these as mere excuses for making inadequate allocations to various sectors.