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Councillors want duty-free vehicles

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Councillors in Mzuzu City have proposed to government to consider extending to them the duty-free vehicle importation privilege legislators enjoy.

The councillors say the privilege would solve mobility challenges they are currently facing since government is taking long before giving them motorbike loans.

The councillors made the proposal at a full council meeting last week.

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The proposal has , however, so far received mixed reactions with the Ministry of Local Government saying it has no immediate response to it since there is no official communication yet from the councillors.

Meanwhile, a Chancellor College political analyst Blessings Chinsinga has trashed the proposal, saying if implemented, the privilege would be prone to abuse.

But making the suggestion, Councillor Patrick Ngoma argued that they were failing to coordinate activities in their wards because of mobility problems.

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“Your Worship, let us be honest on our loans. Up to now nothing seems to work in accordance with our motorbike loans. Remember that we are [entitled] to that and government is not clear on [the issue].

“I suggest we should have the privilege to buy one car on duty-free [status]. Our friends at the National Assembly have such privilege and that is why they do not face problems when it comes to movement in their constituencies. This is also an honourable house and government should listen to us as soon as possible,” he said.

In his remarks, Mzuzu City Mayor Councillor William Mkandawire concurred with Ngoma, adding that councillors in the city are failing to coordinate and monitor development projects.

“Honourable members, I know that movement is a major problem the majority of us are facing. Yes, even the future of our motorbike loans is also dimmed because a year now has passed without being given the loans.

“Can we be open here? Vehicles can do us better than the motorbikes. We are in the city and if government is failing, why not give us duty-free [privilege] on only one single vehicle. Our MP is here and should get the idea to the National Assembly,” said Mkandawire.

But Member of Parliament for Mzuzu City Leonard Njikho said although the idea was good, it was prone to abuse and corruption in the government system.

He said some councillors would abuse it by buying such vehicles on behalf of other people.

“I remember when I just won the parliamentary seat, I received many calls from [people] asking me to buy them vehicles in my name. That means such malpractice might be happening and it can be worse if councillors have the same privilege. However, I will still make the proposal in Parliament,” said Njikho.

But Chinsinga said the country is passing through difficult times economically, hence the proposal might not be welcomed by many Malawians.

“I think government or Malawians cannot entertain their proposal because many people working in different departments in government and institutions [would] want the same privilege. What if everybody proposes that, how will our economy improve? Being a voluntary job, they are not supposed to demand a lot because people will now lose trust in them,” said Chinsinga.

Min i s try of Local Government spokesperson Mulhabase Mughogho said the ministry has no immediate answer to the proposal as it is waiting for formal communication from the council.

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