Legislators on Monday returned to the chamber after a two week cluster meetings with opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson on finance shredding the K1.5 trillion national budget describing it as the campaign tool clearly aimed at boosting chances for President Peter Mutharika’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) re-election.
MCP spokesperson on finance Kusamba Dzonzi said the K1.504 trillion, financial plan delivered by Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe is disjointed and does not offer hope.
“This is the budget you cannot understand, this is a budget which is to benefit the DPP,” he said in his response statement titled ‘Why are you looking so sad Nehemiah?’
MCP spokesman also queried why the Salima-Lilongwe water project – whose contract was given to Khato Civils Limited that unveiled the multibillion Kwacha project in 2016 – has no funding proposals in the 2018/19 budget.
“The people of Lilongwe asked me, Mr Speaker Sir, as to why the 2018/19 Sona [State of the Nation Address] did to say anything about the Salima-Lilongwe water supply project,”Dzonzi said.
“The 2018/19 annual budget , Me Speaker Sit, is also silent regarding the future of this water project. Even the country’s current Public Services Investment Charter does not include Salima-Lilongwe Water Project.”
He questioned the raise of farm subsidy, saying the DPP wants to use the money for campaign.
Dzonzi also faulted government’s recent conduct of bailing out state enterprises from debts they have and demanded a ministerial statement from Ministey of Energy on why Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi has been paying misprocurements and on invoices raised behind the backs of its management.
Peoples Party spokesperson on finance John Chikalimba said the budget has many problems which he said the government needed to explain.
And Budget and Finance Committee chairperson Ronnie Chiphiko said the budget is focused on short-term political gimmicks projects to woo voters in next year’s elections.
He queried a K4.8 billion allocation to the newly-created Youth Internship Programme designed to recruit 5 000 youths aged between 18 and 30, to be placed in various ministries, departments and local councils, saying it is a campaign short-term project.
“Since 2014, the government has never committed itself to empowering the youth. How come it is only this year that it has done so to coincide with the elections next year,” he said.
He said the financial plan “is simply not a sensible or sustainable.”
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe is expected to respond to queries on budget next week.
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