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Malawi national budget reflects ‘Canaan’ promises: Chilima’s duty-free week fulfilled

Finance Minister Felix Mlusu disembarking from his vehicle at parliament, ready to present 2021/2022 national budget

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Malawi’s Tonse Alliance government, which started on a low note in implementing its campaign promises of moving Malawians from Democratic Progressive Party wilderness into Canaan,  has presented its second national budget in parliament with a bang, with flagship campaign promises incorporated.

Finance Minister Felix Mlusu presented the K1.9 trillion budget on Friday, which will run from July to March, a departure from the July to June fiscal year.

Addressing the August House, the tried and tested economist Mlusu said the 2021/2022 fiscal budget, framed under the theme “Building Back Better: Achieving aspirations of the nation together”, will focus on implementation of economic policies and programs that will put this country on track to attain the nation’s aspirations as prescribed in the Malawi 2063.

As per Tonse Alliance’ promise ahead of the historical 2020 fresh presidential election, Malawians will from this year start enjoying free water and electricity connections under the leadership of President Lazarus Chakwera and his vice Saulos Klaus Chilima.

The budget has also incorporated a duty-free week for imports not exceeding US$3,000. Taxpayers will benefit from this facility once a year.

According to Mlusu, the dates for the duty-free week will be gazetted within the year for taxpayers to prepare and benefit from it.

The Chakwera led government has also considered and granted the request by churches for duty-free importation of building materials for construction of churches or mosques.

“Accordingly, the Customs Procedures Code (CPC) 422, which allows churches to import various items duty free will be amended to include building materials,” said Mlusu amid ululation from government legislators.

Tonse Alliance has also considered imbibers as excise tax on opaque beer has been reduced from 30 percent to 10 percent while excise tax on malt beer will be reduced from 60 percent to 40 percent.

In terms of allocations, Education and Skills Development Sector has been a allocated  a lion’s share of the budget at K327.3 billion which is 3.2 percent of GDP and representing 16.5 percent of the total budget.

The resources, according to the public pulse keeper, will cater for wages and salaries; operations of both primary and secondary schools; for subvented organizations including public universities and to finance projects in the sector.

He also highlighted that government will mobilize resources for the construction of the Inkosi M’mbelwa University and works are expected to commence during the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

The Agriculture Sector has been allocated K284.4 billion which is 2.8 percent of GDP, and representing 14.3 percent of the total budget.

Notable projects in the agriculture sector include; the Agriculture Infrastructure and Youth in Agribusiness, Shire Valley Transformation Project; and  the Livestock Infrastructure Development for sustainable animal health.

K187.2 billion has been allocated to the Health Sector which is 1.8 percent of GDP, representing 9.4 percent of the total budget.

The resources will cater for wages and salaries for heath personnel; operational expenses for central and district hospitals, procurement of medical drugs and vaccines; maintenance costs for hospitals and medical equipment; as well as development projects.

“Some of the earmarked projects include: (i) construction of Mponela Community Hospital; (ii) construction of Domasi Community Hospital; and rehabilitation of all district hospitals in Malawi,” said Mlusu.

The Transport sector has been allocated K208.4 billion, or 2.0 percent of GDP, representing 10.5 percent of the total budget. Out of this, K94.5 billion has been allocated to the Roads Fund Administration for rehabilitation and maintenance of the road network as well as continuation and completion of various road projects across the country.

However, the much touted axle-snapping Neno Road is missing on the list of the roads to be improved in the 2021/2022 fiscal year.

The finance minister called upon the Members of Parliament to constructively deliberate on the budget and provide the necessary guidance.

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