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Budget presentation today

Joseph Mwanamvekha

LOWE—There is nothing on the ground

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha is today expected to present the 2020/21 national budget in Parliament and provide an economic outlook amid shocks including the outbreak of Covid-19.

The 2019/20 financial year which ends this month was pegged at K1.84 trillion after the government revised the figures upwards during the mid-year budget review meeting.

In his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last week, President Peter Mutharika indicated that in the coming financial year, the government will focus on addressing revenue shortfalls which are as a result of post-election violence and the novel coronavirus.

Mutharika revised from 5.1 percent to 1.9 percent Malawi’s economic growth forecast.

Leader of Opposition Lobin Lowe said lawmakers on his side are ready to accept the budget.

“We don’t have any problem right now because the budget will be passed after the election. So we will take whatever government is bringing after consulting some technocrats, but thereafter, whoever wins the election will implement that budget,” Lowe said.

In his response to Mutharika’s Sona, Lowe said abuse of resources through corruption is one of the problems that he said have cost many infrastructure projects in the country.

“We are tired of a government that cannot be trusted. After launching so many projects, which were funded by Parliament, there is nothing on the ground. That is corruption; a new Malawian will be here very soon,” he said.

People’s Party representative Noah Chimpeni said while Mutharika has asked Malawians to put development before politics, the President also needs to understand that bad politics leads to bad development.

“We pass bills here and he refuses to assent to them. The Pubic Appointments Committee recommended that [Malawi Electoral Commission] commissioners should be fired but the President refused to do so. The Sona is more of an epitaph of an outgoing president,” Chimpeni said.

On the other hand, Leader of United Democratic Front in the House, Ned Phoya, hailed Mutharika for what he described as the timely appointment of Mec commissioners and that it is a commitment that the President wants the fresh election.

Phoya said while the economy has shown resilience despite various shocks, the government needs to put much emphasis on promoting the informal sector.

After the presentation of the budget, cluster committees will scrutinise the financial plan up to June 19 before the lawmakers return to discuss it in detail.


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