Policy measures Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Sosten Gwengwe outlined in his 2023/24 National Budget yesterday do not inspire confidence, some sections of the economy have summed up.
Among others, the minister stuck to the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP), but was silent on cushioning Malawians, except for the eight percent civil servants salary increment in the forthcoming financial year.
Speaking in Parliament when he presented the K3.87 trillion 2023/24 budget policy statement themed ‘Sacrificing today for a better tomorrow: Regaining macro-economic stability and growth through collective responsibility for our shared future’, Gwengwe said the AIP, which has been riddled with implementation challenges, will undergo reforms and now be dubbed AIP 2.0.
He said: “Learning from the challenges encountered this financial year and the previous ones, the AIP will undergo various necessary reforms to enhance targeting, efficiency and mitigate all risks on the fiscus.”
But in his reaction yesterday, former finance and agriculture minister Joseph Mwanamvekha observed that management of AIP has been a problem with this government, hence its failure to achieve desired outcomes.
He also faulted Treasury for failing to demonstrate how government intends to address the issue of forex shortage in the medium-long term despite its intention to see a turn-around of the situation.
On his part, Centre for Social Concern economic governance officer Bernard Mphepo said the policies implemented and outlined by the minister have failed to address the plight of the poor.
He said: “Any budget that fails to address the plight of the poor is not a good budget. Free tax band and minimum wage aims at reducing inequality.”
Consumers Association of Malawi executive director John Kapito also said the budget has not offered any cushion measure to the rest of poor Malawians outside the civil service.
He said: “The budget has failed to talk to the rest of Malawians. The budget has failed to articulate on how AIP will be implemented though we wanted it completely removed. We are worried with negative economic impacts of this consumption budget.”