CDEDI wants budget sitting to address high cost of living

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) says Members of Parliament (MPs) should ensure that the budget sitting of Parliament translates into a drop in the current high cost of living.

In a statement issued today, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said the coming meeting of parliament, which is expected to commence on Wednesday, 12th May 2021, is coming at a time when the majority of Malawians are struggling to make ends meet.

He mentioned punitive taxes, levies, high interest rates and exorbitant prices on essential services and products such as water, electricity, fuel and high mobile phone tariffs as challenges Malawians are facing.

Namiwa then challenged MPs to rise above petty party politics, and introduce motions, including healthy debates which should raise very pertinent questions that should result into the scrapping off of the 16.5 percent VAT on cooking oil, review of some of the unjustifiable levies and tariffs on fuel, electricity and water, to ensure the reduction of the high cost of production which is threatening the survival of the local industry.

“CDEDI would like to maintain its stand that the punitive tax regimes in the country are scaring off prospective investors, while the existing ones are closing shop, a development that has made smuggling of goods to flourish, at the expense of locale production.

“The country is in the process exporting jobs and externalizing the much-needed forex on one hand, while on the other hand, the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) is losing out on taxes and revenue,” he said.

Namiwa further asked legislators to debate and review the 2011 Pension Act, especially sections 64 and 65 that gives inhumane restrictions to access to pension funds in an event that the contributor loses a job.

“The two sections have seen Malawi sending its productive citizens to an early grave due to lack of funds to pay for medical care elsewhere, when their money is lying idle with the respective pension administrators, purportedly waiting for the mandatory retirement age of 60,” he explained.

He appealed to President Chakwera to seize the opportunity to share with Malawians a very clear roadmap, detailing how his government will implement the Tonse Alliance manifesto, having failed to do the same during his inaugural State of the Nation (SoNA) in the 2020/2021 fiscal year.