- Category: Parliament Track
- Written by Phillip Pemba
Round one of the Public Works Programme has benefited at least 593 750 households only despite being touted as one of the main initiatives to cushion the poor from the shocks of the massive kwacha devaluation which has resulted in high cost of living, Weekend Nation has learnt.
In her address when she opened Parliament last week, President Joyce Banda said the programme has an allocation of K10.6 billion in the 2012/13 National budget to help mitigate the impact of devaluation on the poor.
Under the programme, ultra poor persons in rural and urban areas carry out piece work in areas such as road maintenance and agricultural activities.
They get K300 wages per day to support their livelihood.
Banda said 80 percent of the K10.6 billion was meant for workers’ wages on the projects while 20 percent was for operational costs.
“[Up to] 593 750 households have benefited already from the programme during the first circle which covered September to December 2012.
“Each person works for 24 days in a circle and receives K300 per day. The second circle started in January 2013,” said Banda.
This fiscal year, the programme has been designed to run in both the crop growing and post harvesting season so that farmers should not sell off their produces at exploitative prices due to the high need for money.
World Bank is one of the key donors of the Public Works Programme.
Apart from Public Works Programme, government is also implementing the Social Cash Transfer Programme which has since received about K23.687 billion from the European Union (EU), Irish government and Unicef.
Banda said the programme currently targets 10 percent of the lowest ultra poor and is operational in 15 districts, including Mchinji, Salima, Mangochi, Machinga, Likoma, Chitipa and Mzimba.
“Government plans to roll out the social cash transfer programme to all 28 districts by June 2014, and at full scale implementation, the programme will reach a total of 315 000 households [thereby] benefiting 1.5 million Malawians at a cost of K11.5 billion per year,” she said the programme will run for four years.
Government is currently pursuing the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) as an attempt to stabilise the ailing economy.
Implementation of the economic reforms has triggered high cost of living which has eroded the purchasing power of many Malawians who are grappling to access basic commodities due to massive price increases.
Banda said the economic recovery path her administration has taken is the only route to end poverty and other problems the country is facing.
Last year, about 3 063 savings groups were mobilised from public works beneficiaries and made total savings of about K92.6 million. The groups had 58 917 members out of which 51 percent were women, according to Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga’s 2012/13 budget statement.