By REX CHIKOKO
Malawi’s opposition has asked the government to revert to its traditionally donor-dependent budget after the Finance minister presented a zero-deficit budget last week.
Back-bench MPs claim the new financial plan was hurried and would instead hurt already-suffering ordinary Malawians.
Malawi is looking to wean itself off its heavy dependence on donors after international lenders expressed their unwillingness to support the country’s budget over what they say is growing human rights violations by the government. (Read: Malawi leaves out donors from budget)
The $2 billion national budget presented on June 3 to parliament will thus be funded purely by Malawians, according to the government.
Finance minister Ken Kandodo dismissed the opposition’s concerns describing the demands as unfounded and a result of their failure to understand the new budget concept.
According to the opposition, the budget will see the government taxing ordinary citizens on almost anything including bread, sugar and salt.
“[The] zero deficit budget is equal to [a] zero-development budget. I call upon the government to slow down, abandon the zero-deficit animal and reverse to the usual professional way of developing our budgets,” said Mr Jospeh Njobvuyalema, the Finance spokesperson of main opposition party Malawi Congress Party (MCP), attracting applause from the opposition benches and boos from the government side.
Mr Njobvuyalema repeated the Leader of Opposition John Tembo’s earlier statement that the government was running its affairs as an experiment.