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Commentators fault Mutharika address

Some commentators including influential quasi-religious organisation, the Public Affairs Committee of Parliament (Pac) have faulted President Peter Mutharika’s State of the Nation Address for not tackling a number of thorny issues.

While Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the People’s Party (PP) have punched holes in the address, arguing it does not offer any hope for Malawians, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Malawi Mia Seppo has said it will be interesting to see how parliament will scrutinise this budget.

Opposition Members of Parliament have vowed to take controversial issues such as Malawi Savings Bank recapitalisation back to the august House where the Legal Affairs Committee says it will present a report.

In his response after Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya had adjourned proceedings, Pac chairperson Felix Chingota said Mutharika’s State of the Nation Address was not very clear as it lacked clarity in most areas which the president tackled.

He said most areas which the president touched on were only presented in passing such that critical elements which would have offered hope for Malawi were conspicuously missing.

“As Pac, we are passionate about the devolution of powers and in this case, empowering local authorities is essential. Since this was particularly mentioned by the President, we are happy. But I hope this is not just mere rhetoric.

“However, we are worried that the sale of MSB was conspicuously missing from the president’s address. Malawians expected that he would say something on this, but he did not,” said Chingota.

The Pac chair further faulted the address for apparently failing to provide clear information on the controversy surrounding government’s apparent proposal of introducing user fees in public hospitals.

“He mentioned the issue of Health Fund but did not go into details regarding how the fund will be managed. As things stand today, we are not sure whether we will be paying if we go to seek medical attention from public hospitals,” said Chingota.

He, however, hinted on the significance of the user fees, arguing that “for health services, there should be some kind of contribution even though there are poor people who need to be specifically considered”.

Asked to give his general view of the whole State of the Nation Address, Chingota said it contained many elements which were not unusual at all, saying some things that the president tackled as achievements are those that government departments are expected to do.

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