…says privatisation is the solution
…refers to subsidies as a sickness
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President, Lazarus Chakwera, has asked government to stop supporting poor Malawians through subsidy programmes which he has declared as a “sickness” and “a threat to Malawi” while advising President Peter Mutharika to put in place a privatised market to fuel the country’s ailing economy.
Responding to President Mutharika who had stated while opening the 46th Session of Parliament that ‘Malawi was at a very critical stage’, the MCP leader said subsidies are “sinking Malawians deeper into dependency”. He claimed subsidies are a threat to Malawi and that such programmes are contributing towards the country’s worsening economic performance.
“Instead of building productive capacity to generate adequate revenues in future, the Executive is busy building consumption capacity – continuing with its expansion of such consumption avenues as the Malata and Cement Subsidy. Who in their right mind increases consumption when productivity is shrinking? Besides, when are we going to open our eyes to see that knee-jerk subsidy programs are the most vulnerable to abuse?” wondered Chakwera in his holds-no-barred speech.
The MCP leader promoted the private sector approach which he reasoned would stop people from being dependent on subsidy programmes by creating their own wealth through employment.
“Hindsight teaches us that these kinds of programs are ill-advised, ill-devised, and ill-executed. I do not mean to suggest that Malawians do not deserve better housing, but there is a better way to increase access to such amenities. We, in the MCP, believe that the best way to improve living standards and conditions is to increase the capacity of Malawians through private sector jobs and businesses that generate enough income for them to build their own houses”.
The Malata subsidy programme was initially devised to support vulnerable older and chronically poor people unable to have better housing. Likewise, the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) which started under President Bingu wa Mutharika aims to support subsistence farmers trapped in poverty who are in majority afford basic farm inputs.
Despite calling subsidies a ‘sickness’, Chakwera contradicted himself by acknowledging that “the pricing of agricultural produce is acrimonious for a majority of local farmers” who he observed live under slave-like conditions without FISP. He then pleaded with the Peter Mutharika administration to speed up disbursement of FISP coupons.
“The lean and delayed FISP operations this year will have far reaching negative effects on crop productivity”.
A majority of people in the country rated as the world’s poorest rely on subsistence farming.