(MaraviPost): Malawi Congress Party (MCP), parliamentarian for Dedza East, Honourable Juliana Lunguzi, further to her contribution to the Budget 2015/16 in parliament has expressed serious reservations on the deficiencies in the budget just presented to Parliament by Financial Minister Goodall Gondwe.
The Dedza East parliamentarian feels that the budget is the same old story and short-changes the health sector by reducing its budget even more despite Malawi’s increasing population.
Speaking to the Maravi Post, Honourable Lunguzi said:
“The highlight or rather the lowest point, from my perspective as a Malawian, a nurse and the current Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Health is that District Hospitals’ Budgets have been drastically reduced, in some cases up to 50%, when compared to the 2014/15 Budget allocations.”
“The 2014/15 allocations were themselves not adequate and again the actual funds transferred were even less. This move will obviously have serious repercussions because our fellow citizens who depend on these hospitals have no alternatives.”
She added that:
“Personally, I find this development very worrisome and disturbing because it does not matter what we do, and where we – as a nation – choose to invest our resources, IF at the end of the day, the majority of our people cannot lead productive lives due to lack of quality medical care. I am saying the “majority” because, approximately 80% of Malawians live in the rural areas and the District Hospitals are arguably the ONLY “luxury” they get by way of services from the national purse”.
Honourable Lunguzi would have liked to see a budget that was forward-looking and geared to transform Malawi from consumption to production instead of taxing technology and thus reducing its access. In the least, she says she expected “a budget that would kickstart Malawi’s graduation from subsistence consumption and donor dependence to production, trade and economic independence”.
Lunguzi is of the view that Malawian priority’ should be planning and investing for a better and prosperous future even for generations to come.
“While our people, our fellow citizens, are determined that this is the direction we should take, the 2015/16 Budget – as presented by the Honourable Minister of Finance, falls short as a means of taking Malawi in this direction”, wrote Lunguzi.
According to Lunguzi, the litmus test for this Budget was to pass as a feasible plan for the future, both in the short and long terms.
“This budget needed to have strong indications that it will create jobs, promote a culture of savings and investment, and boost productivity.”
She went further:
“This budget needed to restore hope; but it fails. Therefore any pretense that this Budget is in any way remedial to the Malawian economy is a hoax, a fallacy and insult to the tax-payers.”
On the Health Sector, for which she is the MCP Shadow Minister she said:
“The first depressing fact about this budget, health-wise, is that the Health Sector has been allocated less than 10% of the total government’s budget. This means that Malawi’s allocation to the Health Sector is significantly below her peers in the SADC region.”
She noted that coming from a background where the Executive has often failed to prudently manage the very same resources granted by donors by diverting funds to dubious projects and stunts, it means that banking on donors is gambling with the lives of Malawians.
The current Health Budget is, as per the Budget Statement presented by the Minister of Finance, 75% underwritten by donors.
The MP in her analysis goes into detail about the further reductions in her district and some district hospitals like Chikwawa which she singled out and the impact those reductions will have on the lives of real Malawians.
MP Lunguzi believes that these reductions in the healthcare sector will have long lasting repercussions on the neediest Malawians.
MP Lunguzi also singled out the plight of the people of Phalombe, whose District Hospital, has been appearing in Malawi Budgets since 2007.
To date, not a single brick is in evidence towards the construction of Phalombe District Hospital.
“Fellow honourable members from the Government benches, how do you manage to look the people of Phalombe in the eye when you visit them?” she quizzed the predominantly Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentarians who represent the area, and were ironically, singing praises for the budget.
The MP did not just criticize but took time to offer some solutions. She recommended making the four central hospitals autonomous, or at least – in the short term – semi-autonomous.
She noted that:
“Talk of hospital autonomy started long time ago, studies are now gathering dust at the Ministry Headquarters and ACTION PLANS, are just waiting for political will, having been sitting on shelves for years now.”
She lamented Malawi’s failure to utilize resources citing the failure to deploy specialists in major hospitals like Mzuzu Hospital which drains government resources as “by transporting cases from Mangochi to QECH just because Zomba has no specialists and from Chitipa to QECH because Mzuzu has no specialists”.
“Providing specialist care in all regions would make service delivery not only better but more cost effective,” she argued.
On the ridiculous tax on text messaging, which has also been reportedly condemned by the Minister of Information, she suggested that if the Executive has run out of ideas on how to lead Malawi to prosperity, the least they should do is to desist from imposing taxes on SMS and internet.
She pleaded for Malawi Government’s empathy with students who depend on same for research, the Youth for whom the internet is opening a whole range of possibilities in a country that has nothing for those who are not connected or well to do and the deaf who depend on such services.
[“source – maravipost.com”