Malawi finance minister to present national budget Friday

Malawi’s Finance Minister Ken Lipenga is scheduled to present the long awaited 2012/2013 national budget this Friday, June 8, Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda announced Wednesday.

The Speaker said Lipenga will present the budget- eagerly awaited by Malawians to see new economic policies and reforms of President Joyce Banda- from 2.00pm.

Chimunthu Banda also announced that period for debate on the budget has been trimmed from the traditional 21 days to only 14.

“The budget discussion instead of 21 days will be debated in 14 days. This has been duly appreciated by all the sides in the Business Committee of Parliament that we should abridge the time,” he said.

Lipenga: To present budget

The Speaker said there had been precedents before that whenever time was inadequate an arrangement of that nature has taking place.

“But in line with what is contained in Standing Order 208 (3), at an appropriate time the Leader of the House shall move a motion so that they are in tandem with the our Standing Orders,” he explained.

Leader of the House Henry Phoya said the trimming of period has come about because government wants the budget approved before commencement of next fiscal year which starts on 1st July.

“That period of 21 days for budget debate also includes tabling of Bills and questions which members ask but what we have done in order to compensate for the loss of the seven days, government will not table any Bill that has nothing to do with the budget process,”explained Phoya.

He emphasized that the only bills to be tabled will be those that have direct bearing the budget process.

“We will not bring in the House other matters to be discussed concurrently with the budget debate,” he said.

The Leader of the House also announced that members of the Business Committee of Parliament agreed to extend the seating time from the usual 5.00pm.

“If we see that we not adequately debated on an issue we will go beyond the normal knocking off time which is 5.00pm to somewhere around 8.00pm,” explained Phoya.

And Leader of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the House George Chaponda said they had no problem with the arrangement taking into consideration the seriousness of the issue.

“We have supported it considering what government is saying that we need to approve the budget in good time because of the African Union summit which we are hosting. In order that we do justice to all the issues that we will be discussing we can debate the votes even beyond 5.00pm,” he said.

Presentation of the 2012/2013 was delayed because of the talks government had with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF team which was expected to leave the country on June 7, was among others, in Malawi to scrutinise government books for new possible donor programmes for the country.

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