Parties question government spending controls


Some of the expenditure controls that government has put in place are not realistic and will lead to the collapse of departments that provide essential services, opposition political parties have said.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) financial spokesperson in parliament Joseph Njobvuyalema said it was sad that the government has directed that all drugs should be procured from the Central Medical Stores (CMS).

“There are times when the CMS runs out of drugs and hospitals procured the drugs from private pharmacies. With that directive, lives of people will be at risk,” he said.

One of the directives say that all stationary and medical drugs should be bought from Central Government Stores and CMS, respectively, and that where goods are not available in those departments, the two institutions would arrange the purchases on behalf of the ministries or departments.

“Some of the departments render essential services and they were not supposed to be affected, therefore such departments may collapse.

“The areas that need further cuts are the convoy of the president and her vice and they should also reduce local and international travel,” Njobvuyalema said.

United Democratic Front (UDF) financial spokesperson Mahmudu Lali said some of the measures were realistic while the others were not.

“The government just recently announced that they will broaden tax base and they are also announcing the control measures just a month before the budget review. As UDF we suspect that government has run out of funds and they are overspending,” Lali said.

An economic commentator Collen Kaluwa said the spending controls were a good initiative but he doubted whether they would be implemented.

“Experience has shown that our government lacks the capacity to monitor and enforce such policies. They can be effective for a few weeks and later die a natural death.

“But the spirit of the directive is good and welcome, and that should also be extended to cutting of government borrowing as that will make borrowing available to the private sector,” said Kalua.

According to Kalua, government borrowing will no longer crowd out private investors from financial institutions and would be helpful in the development of private sector and create more jobs in the medium to long term.

Kaluwa, however, urged the government to live by example and keep its promise.

On some of the concerns raised about the spending controls, Secretary to the Treasury Radson Mwadiwa said with the previous arrangement on drugs, some people were stealing drugs from the hospitals and reselling them to the same hospitals.

“Therefore, we want to control such things,” he said.

Mwadiwa said they would come up with the figure on how much the country will save at the end of the fiscal year.

Government has introduced nine expenditure control measures. They include the suspension of all government funded external travel and procurement of capital assets until the end of the financial year.

Government has also limited the pool vehicles to three per ministry or department and that all other vehicles should be parked and the keys should be kept personally by the controlling officers pending the government decision on the disposal of the vehicles.

The three pool vehicles, government says, shall be allocated 100 litres of fuel per month.

Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu said on Wednesday the travel control measures also apply to the president.

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