The government says no Zambian pupil will ever learn in grass thatched structures in rural areas once funds saved from the removal of subsidies are put to use.
And Malawi’s Minister of Finance Mr. Ken Lipenga has noted that he has no doubt that Malawians do not wish to turn their country into a “nation of subsidies”.
According to Deputy Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health Jean Kapata, over 2,000 health centers are to be constructed countrywide between this year and 2016 with the support of the Indian government and the facilities will help to address the challenges faced in the health sector.
Ms. Kapata made the remarks when she paid a courtesy call on Zambia High Commission Charge D’ Affairẽs Henry Ngilazi in Lilongwe, Malawi, today.
This is contained in a Statement by First Secretary for Press at the Zambian High Commission in Malawi, Chansa Kabwela.
She told diplomats at the Mission that the government’s decision to remove subsidies is long overdue as they have not helped to lift the majority of Zambians out of poverty, especially those in rural areas.
She said it was saddening that 49 years after independence Zambia still had places where children were learning in grass thatched schools with qualified teachers and nurses living in mud houses.
Ms. Kapata said the K3 trillion which the country has been spending on maize and fuel subsidies annually will go a long way in ensuring holistic development, thus correcting the disparities that exist between urban and rural areas.
“Why should we continue with subsidies when the people in the rural areas do not even benefit from them? They don’t have vehicles, they grind their own mealie from the maize they grow. They are not affected in any way. What government is doing now is to save the money that was put on subsidies.
“ We were losing K3 trillion per year, K300 million per month in terms of subsidizing fuel and mealie meal. We are saying let us take this money into infrastructure in the rural areas, let us open up the roads, let us also electrify the rural areas. In the long run even urbanization will be a thing of the past because people will be willing to go back to the village,” Ms. Kapata said.
She explained that the government had embarked on the Link Zambia 8000 Project which is expected to connect all the country’s provinces and subsequently open investment opportunities and ease travel for the people.
“Even the remotest area, there will be clinics thus helping to reduce maternal mortality. We have a high mortality rate among mothers. Mothers die because clinics are so far away from their villages. Sometimes when they get to the clinic there are no qualified personnel. All these are things we are trying to address because once these clinics are built they will come with everything,” Ms. Kapata said.
She said there is a heated debate in Zambia for and against subsidies but assured the government’s sincerity in ensuring national development for the benefit of the current and future generations.
Ms. Kapata’s remarks come at a time when Malawi is looking at ways of growing its economy to meet its consumption demands and population growth.
Malawi’s Minister of Finance Mr. Ken Lipenga on May 24, 2013 during his presentation of the 2013/14 budget noted that he had no doubt that Malawians do not wish to turn their country into a “nation of subsidies”.
Mr. Lipenga observed that apart from the fuel and electricity subsidies which the government removed last year, there were still heavy subsidies in agriculture by 75 percent, education close to 90 percent, health by 100 percent and water but added that Malawians wanted their government to implement policies which would only maintain subsidies targeted at the poor.
Earlier during the courtesy call, Mr. Ngilazi said the relations between Zambia and Malawi were good and the Mission remained committed to working for the betterment of Zambia.
Ms. Kapata is in Malawi under the auspices of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, currently chaired by Zambia, to check on the Malawian chapter and its activities regarding women empowerment as the country prepares to hold its tripartite elections in May next year.