The Leader of Opposition in Parliament and Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera has described the 2017/18 National Budget unveiled Friday in Lilongwe as too ambitious.
Chakwera said he was pleased that the Minister of Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has taken into account suggestions and ideas the opposition proposed during the mid year budget review.
According to Chakwera, the country can indeed be developed if the budget is implemented and if there will be a political will to fight corruption.
“It is an improvement from the past, as such we believe that with less fraud and less corruption and less mismanagement we should be able to serve our people better. It’s an ambitious , it must be done if they do show political will and cut out all fraud and corruption”, he said .
Chakwera said he party fears that the budget is aimed at squeezing Malawians further as people will be made to pay more taxes.
On his part, Peoples Party spokesperson on finance in the house, Ralph Jooma commended Gondwe for what he calls nice presentation of the budget that everyone is eager to see it’s implementation.
But he said there were still a mist on issue of linking economic growth to income per capita.
“You could hear the minister saying within 10 years we want income per capita to be doubled. And the only reason he gave is that we want our economic growth to be as ambitious as seven percent per annum,” said Jooma0.
“For us, from experience, we know that there could be economic growth without being inclusive. So, there could be economic growth that will only benefit few individuals. So income capita is one thing but I think we should be talking of equal distribution of resources,” he added.
Gondwe said the 2017/18 National Budget seeks to sustain economic gains. He said the budget also wants to harness an expected rebound of the economy, on the back of a good harvest and budgetary support from the World Bank.
But Gondwe also made some daring moves by introducing tax on subscription television, a 35 percent tax on salary incomes of over K3 million a month and an increase in allocations to governance institutions such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Judiciary, Legal Aid Bureau and the Office of the Director of Public Officers’ Declarations.
European Union (EU) Ambassador Marchel Germann and United States (US) Ambassador Virginia Palmer said they welcomed the increase in funding, in particular, to governance bodies.
Chancellor College-based economic professor Ben Kaluwa hailed the budget as having addressed the concerns of low income earners by, among other things, removing VAT on milk, increasing the tax free bracket and raising the minimum wage from K19 000 to K25 000.
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