Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa has called upon the government to seriously tackle the issue of rising inflation, saying it has brought untold suffering on poor Malawians due to rising prices of basic commodities.
Nankhumwa was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, June 22, 2021 when the State Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima appeared before Parliament to answer questions from Members of Parliament as Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Minister of Public Reforms.
“I would like to ask the Vice President who is also Economic Minister on plans to ease the burden on poor Malawians over the continuing rise in the cost of living as price of goods and services in the country continue to skyrocket,” said Nankhumwa.
In his response, Chilima said that Malawi is not an island because the Covid-19 pandemic has effected the global economy, which Malawi is part of.
“Government will not let people suffer as it has lined up plans to overcome economic challenges, including lowering rates to make borrowing cheaper,” he said.
Earlier, Nankhumwa who is DPP Vice President for the South Kondwani Nankhumwa and Member of Parliament for Mulanje Central asked three questions on policy matters.
He asked Chilima to update Parliament on how far the government has gone with the Reforms Agenda; whether the Public Sector Reforms have already started bearing fruits; and how interlinked is the Reforms Agenda with the Malawi 2063 Agenda.
In his response, the Vice President said under the Tonse Alliance Government, Public Sector Reforms are being managed and implemented with renewed vigour by all the stakeholders.
“Indeed, following the signing of Reforms Contracts between His Excellency the President, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera and Cabinet Ministers on 23rd November 2020; twenty- three (23) Ministries, thirty-five (35) Local Councils, two (2) Arms of Government – the Parliament and the Judiciary, nine (9) Constitutional Bodies and sixty-seven (67) State Owned Enterprises (Parastatals) are implementing reforms as agreed and signed for in their Reforms Performance Contracts.
“Madam Speaker, in broad terms; the Ministries, State Owned Enterprises (Parastatals), Constitutional Bodies and the Arms of Government are implementing reforms in these overarching thematic categories: Legislative and Policy Reforms; Institutional Restructuring Reforms; Operational/Functional Reforms; Financial Sustainability Reforms; Digitization/Automation Reforms; Capacity Development and leadership building Reforms; Administrative Reforms; and Infrastructure Development and Management Reforms,” explained Chilima.
But speaking to reporters later, Nankhumwa said that reducing policy rates does indeed make the economy grow but it has huge side effects as it triggers inflation hence the response l by the Vice President was not satisfactory.
The Leader of the Opposition said there are other important underlying issues that the government needs to address to tame rising inflation, including reducing government borrowing as well as improving efficiency in all government expenditure systems.
“Corruption and theft of public resources continue to rear their ugly head and it seems we still have a long way as a country where we can see genuine political will to reduce public expenditure. “We continue to see senior government officials continue burning motor vehicle fuel on errands that could be handled and managed by low-ranking officers in order to enjoy hefty allowances,” said Nankhumwa, adding that unless serious economic austerity measures are employed, Malawians will continue to live miserable lives.