The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has condemned the recent salary increases awarded to President Peter Mutharika, Vice-President Saulos Chilima and other senior public officers, saying it is morally wrong to effect such increments when poverty remains rampant in the country.
The inter-faith democracy watchdog said the argument that the President and his deputy decided to forego such hefty salaries for now fails to meet public expectation and is an unsatisfactory explanation in light of expenditure because the fact is that the salaries will be received at a later stage in the prevailing poor economic environment.
In a statement issued yesterday, PAC said while it acknowledges reforms being undertaken in the public sector in the country, the committee is deeply shocked to witness the hefty increment of salaries for the President, the Vice-President, the leader of opposition in Parliament, Cabinet ministers and their deputies and members of Parliament.
“The action does not only demonstrate a deliberate and desperate attempt of ignoring the common good, but also sends an unfortunate signal to Malawians who suffer day and night. Malawi is failing to change even at 50. Old habits are resurfacing in both political and economic spheres,” reads the statement co-signed by PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota and publicity secretary the Reverend Father Peter Mulomole.
PAC said the argument that the hefty salary increase is part of restructuring lacks depth as well as context in the present situation as the current economic environment does not warrant any leadership to increase their salaries in such a manner when several employees in various organisations are going on strike.
Adds PAC in the statement: “The development is not only immoral, but lacks proper justification because the poor Malawians are crying for development. Social sectors such as health and education need more financial support and yet the leadership condones such unfortunate developments.”
PAC also said government’s argument as advanced by Minister of Information, Tourism and Culture Kondwani Nankhumwa that the salary increments were budgeted for only makes legal sense, but not moral sense.
Our sister newspaper, Weekend Nation, disclosed on Saturday that government increased the salaries of the President and Vice-President by 80 percent only for the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to announce later that the increases, initially effective October 1 2014, had been put on hold due to economic challenges. n