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Chakwera tackles campaign promises

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President Lazarus Chakwera Wednesday told Parliament that the Tonse Alliance led-administration will deliver on all its campaign promises, including those on duty-free week and K14,000 fees for passport issuance.

He, however, said, during the May 21 2019 campaign period, alliance partners Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM contested separately and put forward separate manifestos which had some promises in common while other promises were unique to each party.

Among others, Chakwera said the promises that were similar included those on introduction of a universal fertiliser subsidy initiative, subjection of Cabinet ministers to performance contracts, making governance institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau, National Audit Office and the Financial Intelligence Authority independent; operationalising the Access to Information Act; creating jobs for young people and promoting large-scale farming through mechanisation.

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He said promises that were unique to the MCP Manifesto included those pertaining to the increase in minimum wage to K50,000; raising the tax-free threshold of Pay As You Earn (Paye) tax from K35,000 to K100,000; changing the start-point for the fiscal year from July 1 to April 1; restructuring the public service; filling parastatal boards with professionals; ensuring the President appears before Parliament to answer questions; and launching a National Youth Service.

Chakwera said promises that were unique to the UTM Manifesto included those pertaining to the establishment of a duty-free week; reducing the cost of passports; depoliticising the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund; and removing electricity connection fees.

“So, when MCP and UTM agreed to form an alliance together with their partners for last year’s fresh presidential election, we shortlisted a few of the key promises that we had in common and put them on a flyer that we shared with Malawians.

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“But upon assuming office, we have been consulting among ourselves and engaging various MDAs [ministries, departments and agencies] on the best approach and timeline for implementing the promises that are unique to each manifesto, making sure to do so with sensitivity to the macro-economic conditions of Malawi, the bad contractual obligations we have discovered are in force from the previous administration and the staggered implementation strategy we have had to adopt in view of the pandemic. Once we are ready to implement these promises, I will inform Malawians accordingly,” Chakwera said.

Responding to a question from Nkhotakota North East Member of Parliament Martha Lunji Chanjo Mhone, a collected Chakwera said external shocks that had faced the economy as a result of the second wave of the Covid pandemic had resulted in the Tonse Alliance-led administration slowing down on the implementation of campaign promises as it commits resources towards ensuring that Malawians survive the deadly pandemic.

He said the move did not mean that the government had backtracked on its promises.

“I can promise you. I can promise the people of Nkhotakota North East and I can promise Malawians that these promises will be fulfilled. If you want the year and a date and a month, I cannot give it to you now,” Chakwera said.

The President said the Covid pandemic, the choking public debt stock, huge wage bill and pension commitments had resulted in his administration classifying its promises into short, medium and long term ones.

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