Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister, Goodall Gondwe, on Thursday conceded that the controversial K4 billion allocated to parliamentary constituencies was not budgeted for but it is “a legitimate experiment” at new funding modalities for local councils.
Gondwe said truth be told that the money was not budgeted for in 2017/18 budget but while reviewing the budget some projects were added.
“The matter together will all the projects have been approved by Parliament,” Gondwe told reporters.
Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Rhino Chiphiko described the transaction as suspicious.
Chiphiko said the Finance Minister’s earlier explanation that the funding is from grants does not hold either.
“I am very suspicious about the source of the funds that they have come from one vote or another. There is no proper statement on what this money will be used for and as I said in the response to the budget statement, government wants to use the money for financing political campaigns,” he said.
Ministries of Finance and Local Government were at pains to state where such money came from as pressure mounted on the motive behind the allocation that parliamentarians later agreed should be spread to all 193 constituencies instead of just 86.
But Minister of Finance, Gondwe insisted the money was from taxes, grants and borrowing and was saved from the re-adjustments of the 2017/18 budget that saw cuts to the development budget.
He said the money was part of excess the government had.
“We could either throw it away, or we could use it. And we found in the Ministry that the K4 mbillion could be used very well in rural areas, in terms of roads, bridges etcetera. We gave that money to the Ministry of Loal Government, They accepted that and decided on how they were going to use it,” Gondwe said.
Addressing a news conference at the Parliament building in Lilongwe Thursday, Gondwe defended the expenditure but failed to explain how the money will be disbursed once given to local councils.
Taken to task by probing journalists, Gondwe conceded that while he had agreed with Local Government ministry that the projects should be conceptualized by the local Area Development Committees (ADCs) he had no idea how constituencies were selected.
Gondwe went further to suggest that the funding, which is being done outside the normal funding procedures of local councils, was an experiment outside the current normal mechanisms following complaints of flaws.
“Our formula was to fund projects identified by the Area Development Committees. I think as a country we should look for other ways of funding local councils because you have complained that CDF, LDF or DDF are being abused, so we are looking for other ways, we may come to Parliament and say why can’t you make this universal,” said Gondwe.
Gondwe said:“The important thing is that the projects as well as the recurrent expenditure must be within the figure of the total receipts. Most of our projects will be funded by local resources. It will come from Malawi generated resources, from tatxes as well as resources from borrowing as well.”
Meanwhile, Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has indicated that it was reviewing the matter.
“The bureau has recorded a statement on the matter based on media reports. The bureau will review the complaint to assess if there is merit to warrant its action,” the graft-busting body senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala has said.
Another opposition MCP lawmaker, Juliana Lunguzi, said MPs’ decision to accept the funding across 193 constituencies, will be to “legalise something which is illegal.”
Political scientist Ernest Thindwa from University of Malawi’s (Unima) Chancellor College said in an interview has said the the unplanned expenditure is “political corruption.”
He accused the House for accepting to distribute the money across the board as abusing government resources to institutionalise corruption.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :