Malawi’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has querried the K15 billion (about $41.7 million) increase in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) funding from the initially approved K40 billion (about $111.1 million) in the 2012/13 budget.
The former ruling party has since asked government to thoroughly explain and account for the increase.
In a statement in response to the 2012/13 midterm budget review, DPP spokesperson on finance Francis Kasaila said it was clear that this year’s Fisp has performed so badly that the K15 billion increase would not be justified.
Said Kasaila in Parliament on Friday: “I wonder how possible it is to spend all this money on sand. I also wonder how possible it is to spend all this money when some beneficiaries still have coupons in their hands without the actual fertiliser in sight. This area needs a full accountability statement.”
Other areas which DPP asked Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga to explain included the drug situation in Malawi, the funding to the public universities and steps government is taking to have the Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) open and also the underperformance in international trade taxes, departmental receipts and corporate taxes.
“It’s time that this government realised that it is failing the people in many aspects. The drug situation is an example and it is a pity that the budget for drugs is being mismanaged and drugs are being stolen,” said Kasaila.
Kasaila said the minister should explain how the drug sector would benefit from the increased health sector-wide approach budget which has been increased to K12 billion (about $33.3 million) from the estimated K7.8 billion (about $21.7 million).
Kasaila said the K4.3 billion (about $11.9 million) subventions for public universities was not adequate and only enough for University of Malawi.
Said Kasaila: “We wonder why government is silent on Must. Will this institution remain idle as a white elephant when many students are lacking places in universities? Government needs to convince the nation what steps it is taking to have [this] university open.”
The DPP spokesperson, who expressed disappointment over what he called low quality of the statement, accused Lipenga of simply painting “a false impression of hope when the truth is that this economy is moving into the doldrums.”
Kasaila said almost 80 percent of the Malawi population, which lives in rural areas, has been totally crippled by the high inflation rate due to the devaluation and floatation of the local currency.
The House will continue debate on the midterm budget statement this week when it is also expected to wind up debate on the speech by President Joyce Banda on February 8.