"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Opposition majority still threat to Malawi reforms
by Taonga Sabola, 19 January 2006 - 06:30:54

The numbers in Parliament currently skewed in favour of the opposition will continue to derail key legislation needed for vital reforms including the next budget, analysts said this week.National Bank of Malawi (NBM) said even if the coming budget is passed, it is possible that concessions will be made not for the revenue and expenditure plan’s benefit but as a display of political muscle.In its January 2006 economic newsletter, NBM said although it might not be so obvious to Malawians, failure to pass such legislation has and will continue to have huge costs on the economy.“Already we have seen substantial costs to companies and the economy, which have come about because of failure by our legislature to prioritise and pass key pieces of legislation in the financial sector,” said the bank.Malawi is in a situation where it has an opposition dominated Parliament with the ruling side having far much less Members of Parliament that cannot allow government to pass crucial laws.Recently, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Publicity Secretary Hetherwick Ntaba said the party is ready to incite defections and that more Members of Parliament (MPs) are likely to join the ruling side.This was followed by a number of MPs moving out of their parties and declaring themselves independent.Chancellor College Economics Professor Ben Kalua said it was very difficult to predict the impact that politics, especially Parliament, will have on the economy this year as it is still unclear how many MPs are supporting government.He, however, said the impact that parliamentary numbers may have on the economy this year could be reduced with more people joining the ruling side as evidenced by recent defections.Another economist Kondwani Mlilima said the impact the numbers might have on the economy depends on whether or not the opposition has changed its stance on such important issues.He said the stance by the opposition to reject important legislation was very unpopular. He added that there is a possibility Malawi may not face a similar predicament.Mlilima noted that the relationship between the ruling and the opposition has changed, though not significantly, but said relations are improving for the better.“However, it will be difficult to predict the impact as the politicians themselves are unpredictable,” he added.The opposition-dominated parliament delayed and almost rejected the 2005/2006 budget as members were trying to protect the interests of their political parties at the expense of national interest.As a result, Malawi almost failed to have the Poverty Reduction Growth Facility (PRGF) agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

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