Vice President Saulos Chilima has urged President Peter Mutharika to operate from Lilongwe during the fight against Covid-19, saying the government is losing money because Mutharika is staying in Blantyre.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lilongwe today, Chilima said Mutharika must lead and inspire Capital Hill at this moment.
“By staying in Blantyre, the government is losing more money paying hotel bills for Ministers and Government officials as well as his support staff that have been to camp in Blantyre as well the entire period the President is there,” said Chilima.
The Vice President also proposed that idle state lodges such as Zomba, Mudi, Area 12, Mzuzu and Mtunthama should be turned into isolation facilities for people arriving from high risk facilities.
Chilima, who is also UTM leader, confirmed druing the press briefing that 100 percent of his salary will be channeled to the Covid-19 fight initiative for the next three months.
He noted that Mutharika and the cabinet have committed 10 percent of their salaries, but described as too little and insignificant.
“I, therefore, sincerely request the President and cabinet members to at least donate 50% of their salaries and fuel allocations to go toward COVID-19 response,” he said.
The Vice President added that ministers should not be given any allowance as they undertake their duties in the inter-ministerial committee on Covid-19.
On interventions in the economy, Chilima commended the Reserve Bank for releasing K12 Billion through the commercial banks to support the private sector whose businesses have been hit by the effects of the pandemic.
He then called for removal of VAT and Surtax on all medical equipment and hygiene items such as soap and hand sanitizers to enable more people afford to practice regular handwashing with soap as well as use hand sanitizers.
He also called on the government to reduce PAYE for middle earners and low earners; and reduce Corporate Tax from 30% to 20% to help businesses sustain their operations as well as prevent job losses due to reduced productivity.
The Vice President added that the government should further reduce the price of fuel at least for this period until the Covid-19 and its effect on economy.
According to Chilima, the pump price per litre should be K623 for petrol, K704 for diesel and K505 for paraffin.
He further noted that hygiene is extremely important in fighting the coronavirus as people need to constantly wash their hands and for many people in the country water is very expensive.
“I suggest that the water boards slush prices by at least 30% for the next 3 months not only to encourage people to observe good hygiene but also to cushion these households from the economic effects of the pandemic,” he also.
He further urged ministers to leave the engagement of the media and announcement of daily coronavirus response updates to health experts.
Said Chilima: There are very qualified people who are being left in the shadows while incompetent politicians are putting themselves in front of cameras giving half-truths to the people of Malawi.
“Let us leave these things to a team of relevant government technocrats and health professionals to give the nation hard truths.”