Of the five opposition political parties represented in Parliament, all but one tore into the Mid-Term Budget Statement yesterday, describing it as unrealistic and not crafted to benefit poor Malawians.
The parties are Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democratic Front (UDF), People’s Party (PP), UTM Party and Alliance for Democracy (Aford).
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha last week presented in Parliament the revised K1.84 trillion budget, up from K1.74 trillion.
The budget revised upwards by K100 billion is, according to Mwanamvekha, due to 15 percent wage and salaries increase, K32.8 billion elections budget and increased funding for security agencies, among others.
But MCP spokesperson on Finance in Parliament Cornelius Mwalwanda said government should have focused on solving current socio-economic challenges such as food shortage, broken health service delivery and governance.
He also urged Treasury to employ debt sustainability mechanisms to induce better private sector performance and macroeconomic growth sustainability.
In the Mid-Year Budget, Mwanamvekha said the target for interest payments on public debt was K116.7 billion, but actual expenditure amounted to K118.5 billion, of which interest on external debt was K7.7 billion, while that on domestic debt was K110.7 billion.
On her part, UTM Party spokesperson on Finance Chrissie Kanyasho said the budget is based on unrealistic revenue assumptions and financial misallocations.
She said: “The Mid-Year Budget Review Statement fails to bring hope. It is a continuation of misallocation of resources. Instead of economic growth, there is economic stagnation. Instead of job creation, we have seen companies retrenching workers due to poor business environment and unfavourable policies, especially on taxation”.
PP spokesperson Noah Chimpeni also said the budget was envisaged to be a panacea for economic development but it has not translated to improve the well-being of the people.
He challenged Treasury to implement planned infrastructure projects that add value and transform lives.
UDF spokesperson Rizzik Mkumba praised the government for coming up with a revised budget to accommodate fresh elections, describing it as a show of maturity in democracy.
Aford’s sole legislator Yeremia Chihana said Malawi is currently facing severe debt crisis due to failure by authorities to manage debt.
He said economic growth is diminishing and investor confidence is also dwindling as evidenced with insignificant Foreign Direct Investment in the past two years.
The Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament is expected to react to the same today. Parliament is expected to wind up its business on Friday.