Economic sacrifice not for the poor only
In the Bible, specifically Matthew Chapter 23, verses 2 to 4, the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ taught his followers to be wary of the teachers of law—the Pharisees and Scribes— admonishing them to take note of their debilitating hypocrisy.
The Lord taught that these teachers of the Law of Moses bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger.
Jesus might have said these words more than 2000 years ago but their resonance feel relevant even today in the modern Malawi that we live in.
The story is very simple. Friday, Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe presented to Parliament mid-term budget review statement in which he categorically said the national budget is off track.
Gondwe correctly diagnosed the problem as being down to Malawi Revenue Authority under-collection of taxes by 25 percent of the expected revenues as well as the fact that he decided to throw money at perennial loss making Admarc, whose relevance we can hardly see in its present state. Where we part ways with Gondwe is his prescription on how to cure the problem because he merely glossed over it, with a view to window dress the fact that he is doing all he can to protect the extravagance of the Executive, at the expense of social service delivery to Malawians.
Simply put, the statement Gondwe presented yesterday means that poor Malawians will continue experiencing shortages in hospitals and schools, among other places, as Gondwe tries to close the K30 billion gaping hole in his budget while the Executive continues to live in their own world of opulence to satisfy their insatiable appetite for luxuries, at the expense of long suffering Malawians.
Gondwe expected this criticism and so he tried to ride over it by lying that he will get the 10 percent to cover his deficit by cutting travel and fuel allowances in government.
But sadly, discerning Malawians can see through the lies because Gondwe’s prescription was devoid of details.
By how much has he reduced fuel allowances and for who? Is it to the Presidency or ministers? Is it senior civil servants or he means in hospitals or schools? What about first class travel? All he said Friday was that some officials that were travelling first class at poor people’s expense will stop doing so.
But who are these officials and where is the Circular ordering the stop because, as far we know, first class travel is rampant and it is all senior officials, ranging from the Presidency down to senior civil servants as well as other state entities.
But this hypocrisy where our leaders do not want to share in the pain and sacrifice of poor people due to their own economic mismanagement must somehow come to an end, without which, this place called Malawi will just collapse one of these days, under the weight of extravagance of our leaders which it can hardly afford.
The necessary tightening of belts as an economic sacrifice is not meant for the poor only.
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