Malawi parliament approves K408bn budget, Lipenga ‘delighted’

Malawi Parliament on Wednesday passed the government’s 2012/13 financial plan totalling K408 billion  (about $1.6 billion).

The budget was approved after a Committee of Supply that took exactly three days to complete scfrutunising  -on fast-track –  the budgetary allocation.

But despite days of tense, protracted wrangling with the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over implementation of anti-defection law, Section 65, the Joyce Banda’s administration successfully  managed to pass the budget.

Lipenga: Delighted

DPP were scheming to frustrate the passing of the budget.

Finance Minister Ken Lipenga tabled the Appropriation Bill in the national assembly before it was approved by an overwhelming vote.

Lipenga expressed “deepest appreciation and thanks” to  all members of parliament for their support to pass the budget.

The Finance Minister said he was “absolutely delighted”  that there was “robust debate” in the House on the budget document.

“It was not a praise session,” said Lipenga, adding “ everybody really carefully scrutinised the budget.

Leader of Opposition, John Tembo, told Nyasa Times in an interview that he was happy the budget has been passed without MPs being stampeded.

“The process in the House was not easy as you are aware the government responsible  now has taken over issues which were for the previous government, so sometimes there were a little bit of hiccups,” he said. “But overall we have passed the budget that’s the most important thing.”

“The DPP was bulldozing votes definitely. But this time the new government  has not been bulldozing. We were given opportunity to comment as  much as we want,” the veteran lawmaker said.

The 2012/13 budget seeks to restore macroeconomic stability and sustain international reserves which have been below the World Bank recommended three months of import cover.

The budget is crucial to seeking approval from the IMF board which meets next month.

The Fund and Malawi announced that they had  reached an  understanding on a 3-year- $157 million medium term program  that can be supported by the IMF.

IMF resident representative Ruby Randall said that the passing of the budget by parliament was crucial for the eventual approval of an IMF aid package by the executive board.

This was People’s Party  government’s first financial budget after President Joyce Banda ascended to presidency on April 7 following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika. And it is a departure to the failed zero-deficit budget by late Mutharika.

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