The Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) has faulted some government’s priority areas in the 2018/19 financial year, warning the fiscal plan could widen the gap between the rich and poor.
The sentiments are in reaction to the 2018/19 Budget Statement Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development delivered on May 18 in Parliament.
The minister told lawmakers that budget framework’s key focus is robust economic growth as the main goal of economic management alongside maintenance of macroeconomic stability for robust, inclusive and sustainable growth.
But CfSC argues in its statement released this week titled: To those that have much, more shall be added, to those that have little, even the little they have shall be taken away: that the budget gives ordinary Malawians little opportunity to get out of poverty.
For example, the centre points out that the K10 billion allocation to the Malata and Cement subsidy programme is unproductive, unsustainable, inefficient and ineffective.
“We find this intervention as an incentive of dependency syndrome among Malawians. This should be discouraged, especially by the duty bearers. The resources meant for this project can be used to increase the tax free band [which has been increased from K30 000 to K35 000] or utilised on other productive interventions to sustainably improve the lives of 18 million Malawians,” said reads the statement in part.
The organisation said the K5 000 increase is retrogressive in its real value, unjustifiable and inconsiderate to the lives of Malawians especially the vulnerable groups.
Commenting on the lack on short-term investment in power sector and the effects of power outages on production and services, the centre has asked government to diversify sources of power by investing in solar generated power as a short term solution.
Currently, the country is investing in long-term solutions such as the 300 megawatts Kam’mwamba Coal Fired Power Plant which the Minister of Finance said will be operational by 2021.
“Government should reduce the cost of importing solar panels which should be accompanied with advocacy for households to own solar panels,” CfSC proposes.
In an interview, Gondwe backed his fiscal plan, saying the statement will not be an all embracing plan of what is planned to be done and what policies for the entirety of the economy.
“The annual budget is an account of what the government intends to do in a given year and does not cover all elements of what should be done in the country,” he said.