Mwanamvekha relieved maiden national budget passes: MCP wary

Main opposition, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) says parliament has passed the K1.7 trillion national budget at the expense of some public finance laws.

Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha with his black box  relieved Appropriation Bill passes-pic by Lisa Kadango

Acting opposition leader Lobin Lowe said the MCP lacked the numerical numbers in the 193-strong House to reject the K1.6 billion budget for two stadia for privately run football clubs; Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.

“As MCP, we are not happy that the budget has passed with the budgets for the two stadia. The laws are very clear that the government cannot fund private entities,” said Lowe.

Parliament on Thursday approved the K1.737, 203, 889,804 national budget for the 2019/2020 financial year without amendments.

Some Malawians in social media platforms blamed the MCP for the passing of the two stadia budgets, saying they could have rejected it.

But writing on his face book, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka says the final stage in passing a budget at committee of supply is conducted by a voice vote.

“MCP side was no and it’s ‘no’ secret. The ‘no’ vote was subdued by a louder ‘aye’ vote,” says Mkaka.

President of Economists Association of Malawi, Chikumbutso Kalilombe urged the government to spend within the budget line.

He said if the government fails to check overspending by government departments and ministries, then Malawi will not get out of the debt trap.

The budget, whose nominal value is K1.7 trillion, is equivalent to 27.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Initially, the budget was proposed at K1 730 987 000 000 but members of Parliament passed the Appropriation Bill that pegged it at K1 737 203 889 804, an increase of K6 216 889 804.

Mwanamvekha said he felt relieved after the Appropriation Bill was passed in the House..

“This was my first budget, so I was not sure how it was going to be received, but we thank God it has passed the way I presented it,” said Mwanamvekha/

In the Budget Statement, Mwanamvekha increased the tax-free band by K10 000 from K35 000 to K45 000 to cushion low-income earners from rising cost of living by freeing some more disposable income.

The budget has also increased the minimum wage from K25 012 per month to K35 000.

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