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K39 billion for covid-19 response package

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Government says it has set aside K38.7 billion for 172,000 vulnerable urban dwellers to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in an emergency cash transfer programme that President Peter Mutharika announced on Monday.

The programme will run for six months starting this month and each household is expected to be receiving K35,000 a month.

But Center for Social Concern (CfSC) argues the money is not enough for the the survival of a household under the current economic situation.

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CfSC Executive Director Benard Mphepo says that their monthly research shows that the current food poverty line stands at K100,000 a month for a household to have a good meal.

Mphepo said: “This is just a way of saying that people will be starving in case of a lockdown. Provision of food is the best thing to do and government should have done more research before implementing this.”

He further doubted if the actual beneficiaries of the project will be vulnerable people by giving an example of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme which is said to be not benefiting the intended people.

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Minister of Population Planning and Social Welfare Clara Makungwa revealed the amount at a press briefing she jointly held with Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Ben Phiri.

Makungwa said her ministry has come up with a joint committee comprising of different stakeholders that will be responsible for managing the programme.

“This fund is for peri-urban and urban people as the rural communities are already benefiting from the Social Cash Transfer Programme through which they have already been paid for three months in advance,” Makungwa said.

Phiri, on his part, said the money will be transferred to the beneficiaries electronically to avoid issues of funds abuse.

“Each household will receive a monthly K35,000 cash package starting from next month, The programme will run for six months. These funds are meant for the cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba as most people living in these areas depend on daily piece work to earn a living,” Phiri said.

He added that reports have revealed that a lot people living in urban and peri-urban areas are highly hit by poverty, hence they also need support.

The Covid-19 emergency cash transfer initiative will be implemented by ministries of Finance, Local Government, and Population Services with a committee comprising members from the civil society and political parties, among others.

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