News / Africa

    Malawi ‘Recovery’ Budget Too Little Too Late, Critics Say

    President of Malawi Joyce Banda is seen during a visit to Britain on June 6, 2012. President of Malawi Joyce Banda is seen during a visit to Britain on June 6, 2012.
    x
    President of Malawi Joyce Banda is seen during a visit to Britain on June 6, 2012.
    President of Malawi Joyce Banda is seen during a visit to Britain on June 6, 2012.
    Lameck Masina
    BLANTYRE - Economic commentators in Malawi said President Joyce Banda’s first national budget, presented to Malawi’s parliament Friday, gives the country’s poor nothing to smile about. Malawians had expected the $1.5 billion budget to include measures to help cushion the impact of the recent 50 percent currency devaluation, which has pushed the cost of living to higher levels.  
     
    President Joyce Banda’s first budget follows the zero-deficit budget, introduced by the late president Bingu wa Mutharika. He adopted the zero-deficit fiscal plan after donors suspended aid to Malawi over concerns about economic policies, governance and human rights issues. Economic commentators said that budget included punitive taxes imposed on goods and services, and led to a spike in basic commodities prices.
     
    Delivering the budget statement Friday, Malawi Finance Minister Ken Lipenga said the new budget would address these issues but the path to recovery will not be pain free.
     
    “Mr. Speaker, sir, we have made effort to learn lessons in the 2011 financial year," said Lipenga. "I am committed to address these issues and implement necessary reforms in order to promote transparency and accountability in the use of public finances. We recognize the challenges that we face and that this will not be an easy journey.”    
     
    To ease some of pain of Malawians, Lipenga said the government will remove value added taxed on bread, import duties from second hand clothes and medical equipment, and give civil servants a 21 percent salary increase, compared to last year's 7.5 percent increase.
     
    But local economists and unions criticized the budget for not doing enough soon enough for most Malawians.
     
    The Civil Servants Trade Union said the 21 percent salary increase does not  keep pace with the spice in prices for basic goods and services due to the 50% currency devaluation.
     
    For everyone else, David Ngomba, projects officer for the lobbying group Consumers Association of Malawi, said ordinary Malawians will not feel the benefits of this budget for some time.
     
    “Honestly, what consumers should expect is something that will not cushion the effects of the economy that they are experiencing at the moment. A number of the products' prices have gone up and they have not been reduced," said Ngomba. "And, again, the 21 percent increment of the civil servants is something that will not take them along to survive the effect of the austerity measures that have been put in place.”
     
    Friday Jumbe, a renowned economist and former finance minister, said there is nothing in the budget that gives hope to small scale businesses. “What is it in this budget where a normal business person of a small or medium size can claim to benefit? Nothing," he said.

    "There is no statement that gives you comfort that a small player can benefit anything, yet the rhetoric is always big, where we says ‘ooh, let’s go out there and do business' and that we should support the small scale industry, Jumbe added. "The support is not forthcoming when you see the budgets of this nature coming in the manner it has come”.
     
    Representatives of the Minibus Owners Association of Malawiare angry at the decision to remove taxes on the importation of large buses. They said it could kill the minibus business - which is vital to the transport sector - yet still subject to import duties on its vehicles.
     
    Some of these concerns may be addressed in the next two weeks as parliament debates the budget before voting to pass it.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora