Chancellor College economics professor Ben Kaluwa has advised government to seriously consider scrapping the Malata and Cement Subsidy Programme off the national budget.
Kaluwa in an interview argued on Thursday, that the programme has ‘miserably’ failed to transform the living standards of the intended poor; hence, the need to do away with it and redirect the resources to other sectors.
His sentiments come amidst the 2017/18 parliamentary budget meeting currently underway in Lilongwe.
The Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme (DAHSP) is a brainchild of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)-led administration, and it formed a critical part of the party’s manifesto ahead of the 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said at the unveiling of the manifesto in Blantyre in 2014 that DPP realises that the right to decent housing is protected under articles 11 and 25 of the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Universal Declaration on Human Rights, respectively.
But Kaluwa challenged the members of Parliament (MPs) to take advantage of the budget meeting to scrap off the Malata and Cement Subsidy Programme.
He argued: “This programme must go because it’s a waste of resources. Instead, government should come up with a budget that will focus on economic infrastructure investment and development.”
Kaluwa urged the MPs to demand an audit from the DPP-led administration into the performance of the 2016/17 Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) before passing the next allocation.
On the other hand, a governance, human rights and social commentator Undule Mwakasungula asked the MPs to push for increased funding to agriculture, health, extractive industry, education, security and governance sectors.
“Right now, we have no dialysis machines in the North and just three or four at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre. The dialysis treatment unit at Kamuzu Central Hospital is overwhelmed with too many patients. Government should prioritise these issues in the 2017/18 financial year,” he said. n