Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga on Saturday held pre-budget consultation meetings with representatives from young professionals in Blantyre.
Lipenga said the consultations, the first of its kind, proved to be rich and fruitful as they provided recommendations which he would take to his meeting with Cabinet colleagues.
The young professionals raised issues of excessive spending by government ministries, lack of transparency and limitations to doing business in Malawi.
Questioned Yiwonda Banda, a lawyer by profession: “Is it not possible for the Ministry of Finance to control excessive expenditure in government ministries and departments on things that are not really needed?”
Lipenga was non-committal on the issue but promised there would be something in the coming budget.
Said the minister: “We will be looking at the issue of excess spending. You have already heard the State President talking about looking at ways in which we can dispose of the presidential jet and cut down on the convoy. But you know the issue of the jet will mean looking at the possibility of putting it to other use as well as selling, because it seems we will not gain anything by selling it.â€
Too much taxes
One business owner, Richard Nkunika, lamented over the number of taxes that business owners have to pay government.
“For instance, I am expected to withhold taxes for suppliers of potatoes that are barely making ends meet. It doesnâ€™t help their business or my business at all. We feel there is no support from government for small businesses,” he said.
Lipenga said the new budget will take into consideration taxation issues to ensure that the poor person does not lose out.
Other issues brought up included discrimination of young professionals in employment and the way the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) treats taxpayers.
Queried Brenda Mwale, an economist by profession: “Most organisations advertise for positions looking for someone who is 35 and above. I am not 35, but I am equally qualified, why shouldnâ€™t I get a chance to be employed?”
The young professionals, led by Chikondi Nkhoma, Tombo Banda and Lonjezo Mwale, also suggested that government should invest in research, agro-processing, start up a youth service and encourage buying products that are Malawian.