Opposition parties in the National Assembly have described as unrealistic government’s plans to construct 10 000 houses for security agencies using the development budget when it failed the same with a loan.
During the handover of police vehicles from the government of China in 2017, President Peter Mutharika promised to construct 10 000 houses for the security agencies because of the poor housing conditions the officers lived in.
Mutharika promised to construct 3 500 houses for the Malawi Defense Force, 6 000 houses for the Malawi Police Service, 250 houses for the Immigration Department and another 250 houses for the Malawi Prison Service.
On Monday, government through the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, also promised the same in the 2019/20 National Budget.
The minister said government will this time around issue a long term financial instrument to raise resources for the construction of 10 000 houses for all security institutions.
Said Mwanamvekha: “Government expects to construct 4 000 houses for the Malawi Defence Force, 4 000 houses for the Malawi Police Service, 1 000 houses for the Immigration Department and another 1 000 houses for the Malawi Prison Service.”
He stated that the target is to reach 10 000 houses in five years and that in the current budget, they have allocated K250 million for preparatory works and designs.
But opposition parties have said it is hard to believe that the project will materialise.
People’s Party spokesperson Ackson Kalaile Banda wondered why government was duplicating a programme which did not materialise when there were funds allocated to it.
“It is surprising that they are duplicating projects, they need to explain what happened to the first allocation?” he said.
Parliamentary Committee on Social and Community Affairs chairperson Savel Kafwafwa said: “Government got a loan from Indian government, in billions. We hear only 40 houses were built. So, if they are introducing a new project, they should explain what happened to the first one,” he said.
In an interview on Monday, the Minister of Finance said government constructed some houses at Area 30 in Lilongwe
But an inside source at Area 30 said the houses the minister was referring to are sample houses that have been built so that government can appreciate their standard and build more across the country.
“Up to now, the inspection of the sample houses hasn’t been done,” said the source.
There are about 13 sample houses of different designs at Area 30.
But according to Malawi government budget performance quarterly report of April 2019, under development projects, the Malawi Police Service had an approved budget of K200 million for construction of six apartments where K100 million was disbursed. However, the project is yet to take off.