President Peter Mutharika has shot down the proposal, saying he finds the proposal “unethical to raise ministers salaries when the cost of living is not only high for them, but to every Malawian.”
The proposal said it was basing on several price adjustments of goods and services which have contributed to the dwindling of the value of almost all benefits and other official entitlements for ministers and deputy ministers.
Ministers and their deputies also get other allowances in fuel, travel, phone and accommodation. Fuel allowances for ministers alone is about 1,000 litres.
However, several Malawians interviewed by Maravipost said the proposal was “pure madness.”
Evelyn, a hawker of groceries with a small shop in Zingwangwa, said “madness has gone into their heads…how on earth can ministers be such greedy in a poor country like ours?”
Mike, a tyre fitter in Chinyonga, when told about this, said “so Cashgate will never end in Malawi because others would have been stealing government money out of jealousy.”
Chinsinsi, a mini bus driver, just laughed off the proposal, praising APM for shooting it down. “Mutharika has done well to reject the proposal because it could have defeated his austerity programme.”
The proposal, if accepted, could have meant the ministers were going to earn more than the President, whose 2009 salary is pegged at K1.5 million, according to OPC sources who told Maravipost.
Mutharika is said to have responded to the proposal by writing back the “proposal rejected, no revision or amendments to the present conditions.”
Frederick Ndala, press secretary to Mutharika, was quoted by the Nation as saying the President “would rather improve the lives of civil servants than ministers.”
The President is said to have appealed to the ministers to be “good leaders and lead by example and forego the salary review as the President has no intention of raising his salary any time soon.”
APM has been cautious on spending after donors suspended over $150 million in aid because of concerns of huge looting of public funds by civil servants in collaboration with business people in the Cashgate scandal.
Billions of kwachas have been lost through the scandal, which was exposed after the budget director Paul Mphiyo was shot and wounded last year in assassination attempt.
Former president Joyce Banda said at the time Mphiyo’s shooting was an attempt to silence him over his plans to expose the scandal.
About 70 civil servants, business people including Osward Lutepo, the chief suspect in Cashgate scandal who is alleged to have looted some K4 billion, have been charged with various offences from money laundering to theft by public servants.
The mass trial are moving at a slow pace in Lilongwe.–Maravipost