Malawi’s parliament passed a 2015/16 National Budget to the tune of K930 billion (US$2.1 billion) on Thursday despite fears that the opposition will derail the approving the appropriation bill.
The budget was passed unanimously and quickly as government jubiliaated after fears that the opposition would delay the budget’s passage as a strategy to force the Speaker to table the issue of floor crossing by parliamentarians from United Democratic Front (UDF) who have relocated to sit with ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), citing Section 65 of the Constitution, which bars legislators from switching allegiance from their sponsoring parties.
The other issues that emerged as stumbling block are the sale of the state –owned Malawi Savings Bank to FDH Bank of Thomas Mpinganjira and demand of full forensic audit report on the K92 billion financial plunder during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) first regime.
Rumphi East MP, Kamlepo Kalua was still pushing for the ‘original’ forensic audit report on the K92 billion fraud.
But Parliament on Thursday gave the budget the seal of approval to enable government execute developmental projects and other statutory obligation expenditures for the 2015/16.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe moved a motion for Parliamentarians to support the approval of the financial plan.
“There were nearly diversions in the middle relating to the so-called K92 billion [report] which I think would have derailed us, but I think we have very good rules in Parliament and we were able to resume the discussions which were very constructive,” said Gondwe in an interview.
“As a minister, this is my seventh year and I can comfortably say this was one of the better ones in terms of raising issues and we were able to change where we were able and stay where we had to stay.”
Gondwe explained that Parliament has appropriated K923.9 billion minus K6 billion for the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep) which would be raised through the fuel levy and could not be debated by MPs.
Leader of Government in the House, Francis Kasaila commended MPs for giving out “their best” during the debate.
“We have managed the processes very well. We want to see some impact and tangible activities on the ground,” Kasaila said in an interview.
MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, who is also the Leader of Opposition in the House, said the opposition played its oversight role, saying the budget has been passed with changes after MPs gave a critique.
Chakwera hoped that the budget will be well implemented to serve the interest and meet the needs of Malawians.
“We believe that Malawians out there are rejoicing with us because what we want are the services. We will continue to provide the oversight that is needed. We will vigorously follow what happens to the implementation,” said Chakwera.
Malawi’s financial year begins 1 July.
Donors suspended about 40 percent budgetary support in the wake of ‘cashgate’, the worst financial scandal where businessmen and politicians connived with civil servants to skim billions of dollars from the government in payments for goods and services not rendered to government.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :