No budget increase for critical governance bodies: ACB, Malawi Human Rights Commission crippled

Malawi government face accusations of crippling the critical governance bodies  by reducing and  not increasing budget allocations to Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) and   constitutional organisation Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) in the mid-term budget review.

Maxwell Thyolela: MHRC complaing of being underfunded

Despite widespread reports of human rights abuses being handled by MHRC and the recently added responsibility of  being the oversight body of Access to Information Act,  its budget has been reduced  by K6 million from K438 852 106 to K432852106.

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe confirmed the K6 million cut, said it would be reduced from the Other Recurrent Transaction (ORT).

But Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Maxwell Thyolera expressed concern that the budget cut at MHRC will affect its oversight functions.

He pointed out that MHRC has been complaining year-in-year-out of being “underfunded”.

Thyolera said MHRC deserved more funding with the “extra responsibility” of the Access to Information ACT as an oversight function.

But Gondwe said the K6 million cut was to the travel budget which would not affect its operations.

Human rights activist Gift Trapence  bemoaned government’s  trend to stifle right bodies through inadequate resources, saying “it is unacceptable.”

But Treasury has increased budgetary allocations to  State House to accommodate salary increase for junior civil servants from K5.3 billion to K5.9 billion.

“The proportion of staff at State House is more of juniors than seniors. They need an increase of 15 percent. This is the  same with other departments,” Gondwe told the House.

An allocation to National Assembly has also been raised from K10.4 billion to K10.9 billion  due to what Gondwe said was extended meetings which Parliament ha including the budget session.

Military spending has also been increased with Malawi Defence Force getting K26.7 billion from K20.9 billion.

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