Finance and Economic Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe’s idea of responding to donors’ aid withdrawal due to rampant corruption is to punish and economically kill us all.
Gondwe, in the budget that he presented to Parliament, wants to do this by saddling us with more taxes and in an event that we do not fall into line, punish us harshly so that we comply to make sure we fill up the 73 percent allocation in the budget that he wants to collect domestically.
The rest of the 27 percent, he wants to borrow.
Gondwe started preaching the gospel against private sector bonuses last year and he has made sure to follow it up by taxing it in this year’s budget.
The most common man has not been spared either. The Finance Minister has said he will extend the 16.5 percent of his VAT to other products that had hitherto not attracted the tax because Sadc recommends so.
He has targetted products we all consume such as bread and laundry soap. Gondwe is taking them away from the reach of the common man so that he starves them to death.
He has proposed a slew of punishments to companies that issue cheques that are rejected by the banks.
Contrast all these measures to the incentives that he has given the manufacturing sector to make money and keep employees on the payroll: None.
Again contrast all this suffering that Malawians will endure in the coming months to figures that Gondwe proposes to spend on President Peter Mutharika.
He is proposing a whopping K1.4 billion for the President to globe-trot 30 times a year.
As the MPs noted this week in Parliament this is an equivalent of the President travelling twice a month.
This President does not travel such frequently and there can be only one reason for such a big figure and it is to use it to hide some expenditure that the Treasury or State House do not want Malawians to know.
But the higher moral is that while the rest of us will groan in pain because of this budget, our political leaders do not want to share in these tribulations on evidence of what Gondwe presented to Parliament.
While he was quick to condemn the culture of bonuses in private sector and remind everyone who cared to listen how it nearly made the Wall Street in America collapse in 2008, no any iota of sacrifice was spelt out for the President and his ministers.
Gondwe never minded that the private sector makes its own money and does not take any subvention from Treasury.
It is common knowledge that huge sums of money go down the drain through corruption. It is also common knowledge that if somehow the theft of public resources were to be stopped it would go a long way to fill up the hole that donors have drilled into the national budget.
But Gondwe said nothing in his budget on how government intends to strengthen the fight against graft and what extra resources he has appropriated to agencies such as the ACB and FIU.
All he cares about is to squeeze from us as much money as possible.
How we make that money seems to be none of his business.
It is as if the economy is in super shape that the economic activities are on the roll.
On the contrary it is hell that as I am writing this, in the middle of the tobacco selling season, our main foreign currency earner, the kwacha is already showing signs of strain.
This kind of behaviour will land this country into big trouble one day when the economy will simply ground to a halt. Those who think that is not possible should study the economic histories of Greece or Argentina.
What kind of budget that only looks for money from taxpayers without giving a hoot about how they make that money in a dangerously bad economy?
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