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Opposition punches holes in budget

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Main opposition parties yesterday took turns to fault the 2021-22 National Budget, which Finance Minister Felix Mlusu presented to Parliament on May 28 this year.

Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson on Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha described the K1.99 trillion nine-month budget as consumptive, unrealistic, debt-ridden, unfriendly to the private sector and not aligned to the Malawi 2063 vision.

Mwanamvekha said the budget was unrealistic because the projected exchange rate of K780 to the United States dollar on which the financial plan was premised was unachievable.

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“The august House will also agree with me that tobacco prices are very low this year, hence the country will not get much foreign exchange from our green gold. It will also be difficult for us to get much foreign exchange from maize exports because most of our neighbouring countries have a surplus, hence offering lower prices than Malawi,” Mwanamvekha said.

Mwanamvekha also said the levels of debt were high, to the extent that the private sector would be crowded out, thereby leading to high interest rates.

“I am also describing the budget as consumptive and not aligned to the Malawi 2063 development vision as claimed by the minister. As you can observe honourable members, total recurrent expenditure accounts for 71 percent whereas the development budget accounts for only 29 percent of the total budget, thereby making it more of a consumptive budget than a development one,” he said.

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UDF spokesperson on finance Ismail Mkumba said life was tough and would get even tougher for the ordinary Malawian.

“Making it worse, this is sadly happening at a time when Malawians are witnessing those connected to the top brass suddenly becoming as rich as kings overnight, with rumours of continued massive corruption and plunder of State resources.

“[This is happening] while many Malawians are getting poorer and poorer each passing day, struggling to afford daily essentials such as sugar, cooking oil, milk, salt, chicken. We have people failing to source money for [buying] a newspaper to find employment [adverts] as well as the case of rising minibus fares, just to mention but a few,” Mkumba said.

Also responding to the budget Monday was the Budget and Finance Committee and the Legal Cluster of Parliament.

The budget is expected to go into the Committee of Supply once stakeholders have presented their impression of the financial plan.

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