Opposition parties in Malawi on Friday said Finance Minister Ken LipengaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s statement on mid-term performance of the 2011/12 national budget does not give hope to Malawians as more people risk losing their jobs because of governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s insistence to implement the zero-deficit budget.
Speaking in separate interviews after Lipenga presented his statement in Parliament, MCP, UDF and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) spokespersons said the minister did not give tangible details on what government is doing to arrest the forex and fuel crises that are wrecking the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economy.
MCP spokesperson on finance Joseph Njovuyalema said Lipenga would have used Parliamentary Standing Order 206 which he said empowers the minister to make adjustments to the budget.
“We see more people losing jobs, more basic commodities not being available in shops, and the buying power for Malawians continue diminishing.
“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a situation which does not give hope to Malawians as you know that the economy of the country has collapsed and there are quite a number of contributing factors.
“Generally, Malawians expected that there would be some revisions, some reviews of the budget here and there to cushion peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s requirements, but that has not been done,” said Njovuyalema.
He said Malawians are suffering because of high taxes and the rising cost of living, adding government should have striven to get the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme resumed.
“The minister has said there is no hope that the IMF programme would be resumed in the near future, at least not this financial year.
“ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a very serious situation. IMF programme is a cardinal arrangement. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cardinal in the sense that without that, a national budget cannot survive,” said the MCP spokesperson.
Njovuyalema said the continuing enforcement of stringent measures in the public service will further weaken the private sector which, he said, is crucial for the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economy to grow.
“Control measures on expenditures in the public service will continue, including external travel bans, grounding vehicles and others. These control measures affect the private sector, so all Malawians will suffer because some companies will fail to run their businesses,” he said.
On fuel, Njovuyalema said: “I thought he was going to say something concrete on how they are going to resolve the fuel issue. All they are saying is that the National Oil Company of Malawi is doing something about it.
“What we know is that they obtained a loan from PTA and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why the past two weeks or so we have had some fuel in the filling stations. But that is gone now, so what next? The whole statement is not giving hope, so I am disappointed.”
UDF chief whip Clement Chiwaya said in his statement, Lipenga only confirmed that government has “punished” people with taxes.
“There is nothing new which has been said. The minister has confirmed that the zero-deficit budget has not helped Malawians. The minister has confirmed that government has collected more money than expected through taxes.