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Goodall Gondwe hits at government critics

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By Audrey Kapalamula:

Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe, Thursday hit at critics who are describing the government’s decision to abolish secondary school tuition fees and buy pigeon peas at K230 per kilogramme (kg) as politically motivated.

The government’s decision to undertake such developments has attracted debate in the public domain, with others describing it as a campaign tool ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.

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But Gondwe told journalists Thursday in Lilongwe that the government would still undertake initiatives that benefit Malawians regardless of the timing.

“I know that [we are getting closer to] an election year when even if you do good things people want to turn it around. We knew about the USA [United States of America] support two years ago. You don’t desist [from implementing a programme] because people are going to say it is political and because of an election,” he said

He said the government has put a waiver on the tuition fees after Americans provided $90 million [K6.6 billion] to the education sector for the construction of over 200 schools.

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“A number of schools that they want to build were in the budget. Now that we are building these schools with resources from the Americans, it has freed up resources from the education Ministry. We will continue to look for resources in the forthcoming budgets to sustain the initiative,” he said

Gondwe said the programme was in line with the Democratic Progressive Party-led administration’s manifesto to provide free education to all, especially girls.

On President Peter Mutharika’s directive to purchase pigeon peas at K230 per kg, Gondwe said the K5 billion which Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) is using to buy maize and pigeon peas was budgeted for.

“The money is from the unforeseen circumstances budget in the 2017/18 budget. Later, we will use resources from the K20 billion budget to purchase the crops. It is the government’s responsibility to find resources and provide them to Admarc to buy the crop from farmers at an appropriate price for farmers to produce more in the next farming season,” he said

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