Members of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) party in Malawi are furious. They are accusing President Bingu Wa Mutharika’s government of acting irresponsibly when it secretly purchased a multi-million dollar presidential jet. The (UDF) party’s Fahad Assani says last year’s purchase signifies the misplaced priorities of Mr. Mutharika’s government. Mr Assani went on to say “In our view as a majority of Malawians, the timing was very, very wrong. When you buy a presidential jet when the poor are suffering with poverty, it becomes something that is unreasonable…and also the government and the head of state (are) quite insensitive to the people. Buying a presidential jet at this time just proves how irresponsible that decision can be.”
The private jet the government purchased costs $13.26 million. This move has brought sharp condemnation from opposition parties. The country’s Finance Minister recently informed parliament that President Mutharika’s administration made some payments toward the purchase. But Assani says the government kept the plane’s acquisition a secret. According to him, the strangest thing is that government did not even advise the nation through parliament or in the budget that they are going to acquire that state of the art presidential jet at the time when it was being purchased. So it was done behind people’s knowledge, only to have rumours that it had purchased the presidential jet.
As a result of the transaction to buy the Jet , the British government has reduced its budget support from 22 million pounds last year to 19 million pounds this year. The British government said its Department for International Development (DFID) has reduced budget support to the Government of Malawi to make it clear that their funding must be spent in ways that benefit poor people. ” We have strong systems in place to ensure our aid is used to reduce poverty and gets to those who it need most,” a DFID statement read.
Apparently the Information Minister Leckford Thotho, denied the jet purchase was controversial, saying it was less expensive to buy the plane than to contract outside help and equipment. He said “For government to come up with that decision, we had to make a cost-benefit analysis. It is cheaper and more effective to have a jet than to pay hiring. Hiring is more expensive.”
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