The country’s final plan for 2020/2021 will be delayed as Parliament has postponed the budget meeting which was expected to start on May 8 due to the coronavirus threat but Treasury has instructed project coordinators and controlling officers in government ministries that workers in donor funded projects should continue working.
Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba said the budget meeting which was scheduled to be held from May 8 to June 26 has been postponed until further notice.
But the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Sosten Gwengwe observed that despite formulating the new budget, government need to get parliamentary approvals for any alterations in the revised K1.84 trillion 2019/20 National Budget in response to coronavirus (Covid-19) impact.
Gwengwe said there was need for Parliament to regularise the bail-out package.
As part of Covid-19 response, President Peter Mutharika ordered that his salary and that of Cabinet ministers be cut by 10 percent.
Government also announced it had reserved K15 billion for Covid-19 responses, out of which K1.1 billion has since been released by Treasury.
The National Anti-Corruption Alliance also called on government to be transparent and accountable in the procurement of (Covid-19) materials and in managing resources allocated to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Secretary to the Treasury Cliff Chiunda has told project coordinators and controlling officers in government ministries that workers in donor funded projects should continue working even in the face of a lockdown.
“I write to advise that all donor funded projects are exempted and will continue to operate during the period in order to ensure that timelines of project implementation are adhered to,” said Chiunda in a memo seen by Nyasa Times dated 16 April, 2020.
He added that all project implementers should take precautionary measures in order to stay safe during this period.
But legal expert Ralph Kasambara has questioned the decision to cancel Parliament and let donor funded projects continue.
He said the government is sending out the message that Constitutional obligations are less important than donor obligations.
“One would have thought that that parliamentary sitting would be opportune time for Govt to hear what people are saying on the ground and also to legitimise whatever actions the Executive is taking during this COVID-19 period,” said Kasambara.
So far, 17 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in the country with two deaths.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :