The Parliamentary Committee on Local Authorities and Rural Development has recommended the phasing out of the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme on the basis that it is no longer viable.
The committee made the recommendation at Parliament Building in Lilongwe yesterday when the Ministry of Lands appeared before it to lobby for funding for the recovery of loans from the programme popularly known as Cement and Malata Subsidy.
Committee chairperson Horace Chipuwa said government should dump the programme once it recovers the money owed by beneficiaries.
He said: “We are not impressed with the programme. In fact, the programme was not well set. So, it was a problem from the onset and now for them to improve on it, it is very difficult.
“So, what we are encouraging them is to collect the money and change the programme. That one is dead.”
Chipuwa said the committee will help in lobbying for allocation of funding in the next budget to recover the money.
Ministry of Lands Principal Secretary Bernard Sande said the ministry is facing challenges to recover the money as there are no funds for the exercise.
“The programme has a component of recovery, but there has been no funding for recovery. The programme has not been funded for two years and it is difficult to carry out the recovery of loans,” he said.
Sande said the development has affected the programme as other people cannot benefit from the loans that were disbursed while some houses have not been completed.
He said the programme also had a grants component, but the grants were not disbursed due to financial challenges.
Sande also blamed failure to recover the loans on people’s habit of defaulting and inability to generate money to pay back.
He said some politicians worsened the situation by telling beneficiaries not to pay back the money.
In the loans component, 37 781 people benefited. However, only 22 420 structures were completed due to lack of funding.
Since the launch of the programme in 2014 by the Peter Mutharika administration, government has allocated K12.6 billion to the programme.
But the ministry has to date recovered K148 million against a recovery target of K6.3 billion by 2024. Records also show that K3 billion is already due for recovery under the programme.
Initially, the programme planned to construct 15 440 houses per year in all 193 constituencies. Each constituency was expected to be allocated 80 houses. Of the 80 houses, 75 were under the loan facility while five were under grants.