DPP, MCP clash on 2023-24 budget
As lawmakers start deliberating on the 2023-24 national budget on Wednesday, opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has said the financial plan will not alleviate the suffering of Malawians.
But the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has rubbished the accusations, saying the budget has tried to balance between cushioning people and containing spending.
In its budget assessment released at the weekend, the DPP says the budget framework is faulty and that its accompanying assumptions are unrealistic.
Among other things, DPP says the K2.4 trillion domestic revenue target is untenable primarily because it is based on unrealistic assumptions of macro-fiscal projections.
The statement, signed by DPP spokesperson Shadric Namalomba, says both the 2.7 percent and 3.4 percent gross domestic product projections for 2023 and 2024, respectively, are overly ambitious and unachievable considering that there were serious challenges with this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme as well as continued health challenges paused by Covid and the cholera outbreak.
On expenditure, the DPP says it has noted with shock that two of the biggest expenses are interest payments at K915 billion and salaries and wages for civil servants at K1.1 trillion.
“The country is paying heavily for the carelessness of the Tonse Alliance administration and the sad part of it all is that government is now borrowing K1.2 trillion in this budget to repay K1.2 trillion in interest payments and amortisation, a case of digging one pothole to fill another. The government should have also provided updates on the debt retirement sinking fund,” Namalomba says.
The party has also faulted Tonse for introducing allowances for civil servants at a time Malawians are suffering from disasters.
Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe was not immediately available for a comment Monday but, reacting to DPP’s accusations Monday, MCP publicity secretary Ezekiel Ching’oma said it is surprising that DPP wants some Malawians to lose jobs because they want to contain the growth of salaries.
“Civil Servants deserve better and their plight should be safeguarded and government will continue removing ghost workers, some of whom were fake teachers and professors who would get salaries without working anywhere,” he said.
On growing public debt, Ching’oma blamed DPP for ballooning the country’s public debt from K130 billion in 2006 to K4.1 trillion.
“All this debt was not used for development (investment) but consumption. That’s why the country remains poor,” Ching’oma said. On March 2 2023, Gwengwe presented a budget policy statement titled ‘Sacrificing Today for A Better Tomorrow: Regaining Macroeconomic Stability and Growth through Collective Responsibility for Our Shared Future’.