Members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday started debate on government’s proposal to borrow K9 billion (US$21 897 810) from the African Development Fund (ADF) to partly finance drilling of 450 boreholes and construction of 166 toilets at trading centres and markets across the country.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe tabled the Loan Authorisation Bill which he said seeks to spur social and economic growth to improve health of the marginalised rural population.
The project, which will be implemented in Rumphi, Nkhotakota, Ntcheu, Phalombe and Mangochi at a cost of K15.4 billion (US$37 469 586.4), will have three components, including capacity building and project management.
Said Gondwe: “Under the component of water infrastructure development, there will be rehabilitation of 12 gravity-fed water supply systems and construction of 450 boreholes not covered by the gravity-fed systems.”
The second component will promote sanitation and hygiene through construction of 166 toilets in markets and trading centres by sex and to include those for the physically disabled.
The loan from ADF would also be used to construct staff houses and develop training and monitoring and evaluation systems.
Government is expected to borrow an additional $7.5 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the Nigeria Trust Fund and a grant of $4.65 million and government is expected to contribute $3.7 million in kind.
Malawians will start repaying the loans after a 10-year grace period for 30 years at a 0.5 percent interest.
Responding to the bill, Dedza East MP Juliana Lunguzi (Malawi Congress Party [MCP]) said 50 years after independence, Malawi should not be borrowing such large sums of money to build toilets.
She said: “Fifty years after independence and knowing that 30 percent of boreholes become unoperational, do we seriously think boreholes are the way to go?”
Spokesperson for MCP on agriculture, Felix Jumbe, warned that the funds borrowed should not be lost through corruption.
He said this could be done by providing MPs and district councils with detailed project information so they could trace progress on the rehabilitation of the 12 gravity fed water systems and construction of 450 boreholes.