Members of Parliament (MPs) have asked government to ensure full recovery of K12.6 billion public funds disbursed to beneficiaries under the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme.
Parliament’s Budget Cluster Committee for Transport and Public Infrastructure chairperson Robert Mwina told Parliament on Wednesday that the programme, widely known as Malata and Cement Subsidy, introduced by the previous Democratic Progressive Party administration, is facing challenges because of failure by beneficiaries to pay back the money.
He said the money was distributed through councils most councils of which lacked the capacity to recover the funds hence there is need to engage financial institutions to recover the money.
Mwina said: “We know that beneficiaries of the programme owe government a lot of money.
“It seems government does not have much interest in sustaining the programme. But whether it will continue with the programme or not, we want the money that was already disbursed to be recovered.”
In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Lands spokesperson Enock Chingoni said the ministry is committed to recover the money from beneficiaries.
He said that as of March 2021, government had recovered K132 million from beneficiaries.
In December 2019, government had recovered K110 million or less than one percent of the K14 billion loans beneficiaries of one of former president Peter Mutharika’s pet projects.
The programme’s concept note indicated that government planned to build 600 000 units for the poor—70 houses in each of the 193 constituencies—on a 50 percent subsidy every year. Five thousand of the units were supposed to be grants to the ultra-poor.
The total cost of the project, which was planned to run for five years—from 2014 to 2019—was K39 billion. By December 2019, about K24.5 billion had been spent on the project covering both houses and administration.
The Malata and Cement Subsidy replaced the Mudzi Transformation Fund introduced by the Joyce Banda administration between 2012 and 2014.