JB concerned with socio-economic empowerment of the people, claims has not improved since she left office in 2014

People’s Party (PP) president Joyce Banda has promised a K10 billion revolving fund for loans targeting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to improve people’s livelihoods.

Speaking during a rally at Area 23 Police ground in Lilongwe yesterday, the former president said she is concerned with socio-economic empowerment of the people which she claimed has not improved since she left office in 2014.

Banda, who articulated a five-point plan she will implement if she wins the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, said she will introduce many programmes to uplift lives of all citizens.

She said: “I know people are struggling, there are not employed, they lack business capital and the taxes are too much for them. To improve their economic life, my party has set aside K10 billion for a revolving loan fund to uplift lives.”

The PP leader, who went into self-imposed exile after losing the 2014 elections and returned home last year, said the current economic situation in the country only favours the rich, even in seeking political office where exorbitant nomination fees prevent the poor from participating in elections.

“The nomination fee for members of Parliament is too much [K500 000]. The poor cannot afford. I will reduce the amount if voted into power. There are capable people who can stand as members of Parliament but fail to do so because of the fees,” she said.

On agriculture, she promised a universal fertiliser subsidy programme to enable all farmers access farm inputs.

She also said she will renovate existing universities instead of constructing new ones, bring an end to blackouts, and scrape off driving license expiry dates.

But commenting on Banda’s promises, University of Livingstonia political science lecturer George Phiri warned the former president t against mixing personal issues with government business.

He said: “She needs to understand that running government is not personal as money that is collected from renewal of licenses goes to government and not personal coffers. She needs to distinguish between herself and government. Running a government is different from running a charity organisation.”

With the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections fast approaching, Banda said she will contest as a presidential candidate and will not play second fiddle in any coalition.

A recent survey conducted by Zomba-based Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) between August and September this year showed that JB is the most trusted leader and also predicted that the governing Democratic Progressive Party is likely to win, followed by main opposition Malawi Congress Party while the new kid on the block UTM party may come third.

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