Malawi Parliament on Monday passed five votes namely, State Residences, National Audit Office, the Judiciary, Office of the President and Cabinet, and Department of Human Resource Management and Development without amendments.
Parliamentarians, however, sought clarifications from Finance Minister on some allocations within the State Residences vote which has a total funding of MK3, 675,142,640.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lilongwe Mapuyu South parliamentarian, Joseph Njobvuyalema observed that the allocation for developmental activities on the vote was far too low given the state of the country’s state residences which he observed need a lot of renovations.
“The allocation of MK30 million only for rehabilitation of State Residences is not realistic,” observed Njovuyalema in his submission during Committee of Supply. “If you look at our state residences they are all in dire need of rehabilitation and the allocated amount for this purpose is very little.”
Njobvuyalema also queried the allocations for the President’s external and internal travel expenses, saying the amounts were too much.
Said the Lilongwe Mapuyu South legislator: “Could the Minister of Finance justify the allocations of MK604 million and MK339 million for the President’s external and internal travel respectively?
“I find these figures too much to be spent by one person when there is only MK30 million for the rehabilitation of the State Residences. Can the figures be played around so that we see more developmental action on the ground?”
In their respective submissions, MCP’s Lilongwe Msozi South Parliamentarian, Dzoole Mwale, and Nsanje Central Member of Parliament, Lazalo Francis Katsaila, also asked the Finance Minister to justify the allocations of MK1 billion for motor vehicle services and the 130 percent salary budget line for the State House employees.
But in his response, Finance Minister, Dr. Ken Lipenga, said the amount allocated to the State Residences vote had been thoroughly thought out to avoid underfunding which would result in the State Residences asking for additional financing.
“It is a result of the lessons we have learnt from previous experiences whereby you would see ministries and departments being underfunded and asking for more funds,” explained Lipenga.
On the Presidential external and internal expenses, the Finance Minister said the allocation was not meant for the President alone but for the entire entourage which accompany the leader on every trip abroad.
Lipenga also justified the MK1 billion motor vehicle services allocation saying it would cater for maintenance, fuel and other requirements.
On the 130 percent salary budget line for the vote, the Finance Minister said the figure included the conditions Government agreed with the Civil Servants Trade Union in February, among other things.
“This take into account between the two parties in February this year when a maximum of 61 percent increment was effected to public servants; and it also includes the wage clip at the end of the financial year,” explained Lipenga.
The other votes which the House passed had the following allocations: National Audit Office, MK971,705,594; the Judiciary, MK3,240,150,512 Office of the President and Cabinet, MK6,495,557,527; and Department of Human Resource Management and Development without amendments, MK11,531,742,396.
The Finance Minister deferred the National Assembly vote to a later date.--Malawi News AgencyFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :