Namisa Blogger of the year 2013,Stimulating the much needed debate

Government is to spend MwK67 billion more than initially budgeted in the current 2012/13 fiscal year. Finance Minister Ken Lipenga s in the national assembly when he presented the 2012/13 midyear budget statement.

According to Lipenga, government has increased the total expenditure from the approved MwK408bn to MwK475bn.

Lipenga said the People’s Party (PP) government has lived within the budget between July and December (both months inclusive) arguing it has spent MwK3.8bn less recurrent expenditure than initially budgeted. He said government planned to spend MwK199bn by December 2012 but ended up spending MwK195bn.

The finance minister attributed the development to the austerity measures by the Dr Joyce Banda regime

In his quick response to the statement, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament John Tembo said he doubts Lipenga’s statement as he is fond of lying. “I doubt the minister’s statements because it is only last year when he lied to all Malawians on tax collection and yet he knew that government borrowed from the banks” said Tembo. He said he will make a proper response after scrutinizing the midyear budget documents

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Leader in the house Dr George Chaponda has quashed the statement saying it fails to discuss the current social economic challenges that have come due to the devaluation and the floating of the Kwacha. Chaponda said the minister left out issues such as the exorbitant interest rate and inflation.

On his part, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) parliamentary spokesperson on finance Joseph Njobvuyalema concurred with Chaponda saying the minister failed to tell the nation that the budget has literally failed.

According to Njobvuyalema,  Lipenga should have been open enough to call for proposals on the way forward on the 2012/13 budget from the house instead of painting a rosy picture when on the group there is literary nothing which is promising. He has since challenged government to diversify economic exports than depending on tobacco which is facing a number of challenges.

Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) Executive Director Martha Kwataine has trashed finance minister Ken Lipenga’s assertion that the current drug shortage is due to judicial lenience in meting out punishments to drug theft offenders. Kwataine has asked government to stop the blame game and move with speed to make sure that drugs are available in all the public health facilities.

One of the country’s renowned economic and social commentators Mabvuto Bamusi has described the 2012/13 midyear budget statement as another missed opportunity after President Joyce Banda’s state of the nation address. According to Bamusi the statement has left out a critical player in the implementation of the budget in the name of the [striking] civil servants.

Read Lipenga’s statement here: Mid Year Budget Statement latest vt 1422013(2)

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