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Growing Calls to halt Britain’s £400m over PRIVATE JET remarks


Peter Muthalika, The President of Malawi, one of the world’s poorest nations has vowed to buy himself a PRIVATE JET – as British taxpayers’ prepare to take their spending on foreign aid for the country close to £400m.

The remarks have sparked an angry response both in Britain and Malawi, with critics branding the request “absurd”- not least because more than half of Malawians live on less than a $1 a day.

Mr Mutharika is likely to opt for a more modest jet, similar to those used by neighbouring African presidents, but it could still severely dent the national budget of one of the world’s poorest nations by millions of pounds.

Malawi ranks as the 174th poorest nation out of 187 in the Human Development Index – a universally-accepted benchmark that takes into account average income and life expectancy.

Speaking to to, Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is absurd that politicians expect taxpayers to hand over their hard-earned cash to be spent on aid in countries that buy lavish presidential jets.

“With services at home under financial pressure, it’s simply bizarre that the development budget continues to surge.”

Expert in UK aid Jonathan Foreman called for all Britain’s aid funding to Malawi to be halted until assurances were given that Mr Mutharika would not be purchasing a new jet.

He told “The aid industry marketing machine likes to pretend that this kind of thing doesn’t really happen, that these days we only give aid money to responsible leaders who care about their own people. That’s clearly not true.”

Mr Foreman, whose book titled ‘Aiding & Abetting’ explains the pitfalls in delivering aid, added: “Mutharika buying a jet for himself while his countrymen live in poverty, and while foreign aid keeps his country’s inadequate schools and clinics going, is the reality behind what the aid industry calls ‘poor governance’.

“It’s because so much aid goes to leaders like him that countries like Malawi remain so poor even after billions have been donated by the West.

Nathan Gill, UKIP’s development spokesman, added: “A new Gulfstream [aircraft] costs £42million, more than 50 per cent of the UK’s aid to that troubled country.

“Lets help in a way that the people of Malawi would benefit and not just their ridiculous elite”.

Mr Mutharika has faced severe criticism in his native Malawi over spiralling transport costs.

He recently hired a private jet to travel to Dubai but has since refused to disclose the bill for the trip.

Officials claim buying the president his own jet would actually save money as the president would no longer require expensive chartered flights.

Ordinary Malawians have also reacted with anger to reports of a lavish new presidential jet.

“What’s wrong with spending seven hours in the business lounge at airports sipping his favourite whiskey?” said one primary school teacher.

“Most of us can’t even afford a bus ticket to Johannesburg.”

Another said: “Government says the economy is bad everyone must tighten up their belts and yet the President wants to travel in luxury. It doesn’t make sense.”

Mr Mutharika’s own brother, Bingu wa Mutharika – who ruled Malawi from 2004 until his sudden death in 2012 – attracted controversy when he blew £8.3m on a 14-seat Dassault Falcon 900EX presidential jet.

His successor, Joyce Banda, refused to fly the jet saying it was too expensive to run.

Among other costs it required was a £200million bill for routine maintenance costs.

Malawi’s leader Peter Mutharika has revealed he wants an Air Force One-style presidential jet in order to avoid airport queues or the “inconvenience” of waiting for flights.

After returning from a recent trip abroad, the east African country’s president said: “Imagine spending seven hours at Tambo Airport in Johannesburg [South Africa] just to connect to [Malawi’s capital] Lilongwe? How inconveniencing.”

The country’s Information Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, also attempted to justify the need for the president of one of the poorest countries in the world to have his own private plane.

“In all fairness every country needs a presidential jet for convenient travelling,” he said.

“The President experiences a lot of time losses in flight connections whenever he is on public flights, hence affecting his schedules.”

The remarks have sparked an angry response both in Britain and Malawi, with critics branding the request “absurd”- not least because more than half of Malawians live on less than a $1 a day.

The UK Government sends millions of pounds in aid to the impoverished African state, with this year’s budget estimated at more than £83million – equating to 1.18 per cent of Britain’s total foreign aid budget.

Between 2009 and 2013, Britain’s overseas aid allowance for Malawi topped £300million.

Mr Mutharika gained notoriety after he struck up a friendship with pop star Madonna during her last trip to the country , when she adopted two children.

Madonna always arrives in Malawi on her private Gulfstream jet.

However, Mr Mutharika himself is forced to rely on a mixture of chartered and commercial flights.

Air Force One, the name given to the US president’s aircraft, costs an estimated £118,000 an hour to run.

Officials in Washington claim a replacement for the jumbo jet would set the US taxpayer back £254million.

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