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

Over 25 bills including two bills to facilitate harmonization of the country’s electoral laws are expected to be tabled during the budget session which starts tomorrow at the National Parliament in Lilongwe.The two bills are a must if the country is to hold the first ever tripartite elections in 2014.
During the last meeting Parliament amended the republican constitution to enable the Malawi electoral commission to hold the usual presidential and parliamentary election alongside local government elections.
As usual, Joyce Banda is expected to open the 1213/2014 budget meeting. Malawians, who are still battling for their economic survival as the cost of living continues to skyrocket, are looking up to President Dr Joyce Banda’s speech with anticipation of good news. The monthly cost of living, which is now pegged at around K90,000 according to the Center for Social Concern, has seen many Malawians thrown into deep poverty.
Inflation has gone down mainly due to harvesting of maize and tobacco sales that is helping the Kwacha to appreciate against the United States Dollar. However, at 36.4%, the inflation is still way too high. It is one of the highest in the SADC region.
During the past year strikes and threats of demonstrations were order of the day and this saw President Banda and her information machinery thrown into defense mode
praising her achievements which mainly center on restoration of donor confidence and availability of foreign exchange and fuel, things that are not in the center of the minds of most Malawians. For the majority of Malawians, it is daily survival that matters. With highly eroded disposable incomes, the daily songs of fuel and Forex availability are not danceable to people who have to struggle everyday to make ends meet. In fact national fuel usage has dropped by 50%, a sign that people have packed their cars due to the unaffordability of fuel and lack of money.Civil servants are expecting salary increments as per February agreement while the majority of working Malawians are expecting an increase on the tax free bracket from the current K15,000.
Being the last budget session before elections in May 2014, most MPs will be very active and in campaign mode in their contributions in Parliament. Most Members of Parliament who fear that they will not return in 2014 are expected to be on top of the voices for recognition back home. The budget meeting of Parliament could make or break parties as Malawians look for solution to the perennial poverty.

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