Malawi Parliament on Friday passed K742 billion zero-aid budget to enable government execute developmental projects and other statutory obligation expenditures for the the 2014/15.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe moved a motion for Parliamentarians to support the approval of the financial plan where a total of K7.4 billion has been added to the initial K62.2 billion which was described by different activists as too little to address the needs of the health sector in the country.
Most legislators and health rights activists asked Gondwe to increase the allocation to the Ministry of Health in the National Budget.
“An extra of K7.4 billion has been provided on the drug budget for a start, as we explore other avenues of bridging the gap further. Out of the sum, K2.5 billion will go to central hospitals, and another K2.5 billion to district hospitals,” Gondwe told Parliament.
While 1 billion has been allocated for anti-malaria drugs and Tuberculosis treatment; K966 million for the expanded Programme on Immunisation; and K34 million to supplement the current allocation on family planning.
Gondwe has also allocated additional K500 million for diagnostic medical equipment, K150 for the training of cancer medical specialists who will be available to attend to patients immediately after completion of the construction.
“In order to manage the transition process for the development budget to move from the central ministries to the councils, government has decided to allocate an additional K5 billion to the General Resource Fund for the council’s development budget in the interim,” said Gondwe.
In the adjustments, the constituency development fund has been allocated an additional K3 million while an additional sum of K1 billion has been allocated to facilitate the process of upgrading the underlying software, and to finance preparatory expenditures leading towards the acquisition of new software.
“This brings the total allocation for Ifmis improvements to K1.5 billion,” said Gondwe.
Among others, the University of Malawi (Unima), the Ministry of Gender, the Police Service and the Financial Intelligence Unit have had their allocations adjusted upwards.
The Malawi Police Service will receive an additional K500 million for the procurement of motor vehicles so as to ease the mobility issues currently facing the service.
Leader of Government in the House, Francis Katsaila commended MPs for giving out “their best” during the debate.
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 changed after MPs gave a critique.
Chakwera hoped that the budget will be well implemented serve the interest and meet the needs of Malawians .
“We at least happy that government listened to our concerns by revising some allocations to key sectors, mainlyhealth,” said Chakwera.
Juliana Lunguzi, Chairperson Parliamentary Committee for Health, hailed health rights activists and media, who she said, helped the cause by making and broadcasting the right “noises”.
“Our joint efforts have paid off. Who says lobbying doesn’t work? Evidenced-based lobbying, using facts, always works.The increase will go towards the drug budget (initially left to donors), family planning and diagnostic equipment,” said Lunguzi.
Most local economists however have described the budget as “prudent”, but have warned about fiscal discipline.
Malawi’s financial year begins 1 July, but because of the 20 May elections and the subsequent change of government, the new administration of President Peter Mutharika asked Parliament for a three-month extension.
Donors suspended US$150m in budgetary support in the wake of ‘cashgate’, the worst financial scandal in Malawi’s 50 years existence as an independent country, 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 :