Malawi opposition stopped government from rushing to approving the K17.2 billion African Development Fund Loan Authorisation Bill, saying it did not have specific areas and locations where the money would be channelled.
It is the loan for Agriculture infrastructure and youth in agribusiness project.
The Bill’s objective is to promote economic growth and food security, through irrigation development, value chain development and the expansion of opportunities in agriculture and agribusiness and the rural poor youth.
After debate, the opposition agreed that the loan was important but lacked necessary information on accountability purposes.
The MCP Spokesperson of finance, Kusamba Dzonzi in his critique of the bill, said it was vague.
“The word ‘promote economic growth’ is vague. It is easily said. It is easier for our colleagues to accept that as long as it promotes put economic growth, it makes sense to them, but this cannot be easily measured. You can necessarily borrow for something that is a product of something that does not exist in your country. So, this vagueness in the bill is very wanting for us,” Dzonzi said.
He added: “The component of the grant K1.7 billion from European Bank, is a good gesture, but it is very important for the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Develoopment to be very clear. This country has a lot of problems. We have borrowed, we have authorised. There are some institutions in this country, very soon we will be commenting on such type of banks. How sure are we that when this House passes or approves this bill that this grant will actually come forth?”
Peoples Party (PP) Member of Parliament for Mangochi Monkey-Bay, Ralph Jooma said the specific areas where the money would be channelled once the bill is authorised were only mentioned in the memorandum of understanding but not in the actual Bill.
“If we leave it as it is, money can be taken and be used in other areas not necessarily the ones that have been mentioned and nobody would question, legally, who those resources never went to the specific areas,” said Jooma.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, said he was “very disappointed” that MPs have “refused money” by deferring the Bill.
This comes after Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera declared that any grant or Bill that the government will table in the National Assembly, but with scanty details about how ordinary citizens may benefit, will be rejected with impunity by opposition MPs.
On Friday, MPs, mainly from the opposition side, rejected a Bill meant to authorise the government to get a grant of about K74 billion ($1.4 million) from the International Development Association (IDA) for the financing of the Malawi Drought Recovery and Resilience Project (MDRRP).
The opposition rejected the Bill because it lacked specifics and proof that ordinary people would benefit from the projects facilitated by the grant.
“We do not want another Cashgate style of doing things,” said Chakwera, who is also president of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Lilongwe North West MP.
Chakwera faulted DPP government’s tendency to ‘ambush’ MPs by short-circuiting Standing Orders that demand that debate on key Bills should precede 28 days of notice, to enable the MPs to study the issues adequately.
“We are tired of this. We want to be sure that when people [donors] give us [Malawi] grants, ordinary Malawians are the ones who benefit—and not a few folks that are in charge somewhere,” Chakwera stressed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :