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Oxfam drills holes in national budget

PRESENTED BUDGET STATEMENT—
Mwanamvekha

Charity organisation Oxfam has described the upward adjustments of fees charged on government services as regressive.

It has also lamented the introduction of one percent withholding tax on non-bank mobile money transactions and the reduction in the Farm Input Subsidy Programme allocation from K41 billion to K35 billion while reducing the number of beneficiaries from 1 million to 900,000.

“Since the fees are yet to be gazetted, we urge government to reconsider this move especially in so far as user fees for essential services are concerned as this will trap less privileged Malawians in poverty and exacerbate inequality by denying poor people access to vital services,” the statement reads.

Among other things, Finance Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha announced in his budget statement on Monday that the minimum wage package had been increased from K962 to K1,336.15 per day.

He also increased the Pay As You Earn tax-free bracket from K35,000 to K45,000, a development Oxfam commends.

In its Dangerous Divide: State of inequality in Malawi study report, Oxfam noted huge gaps between rich and poor Malawians and called on policymakers to put in place measures that would facilitate reduction of the gap.

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