House approves revised national budget

Parliament yesterday authorised government to use a revised budget for the second half of the financial year with cuts made to some expenditure lines on development projects.

This means that the 2018/19 National Budget has been revised downwards by K25 billion to K1.4 trillion due to an expected decrease in development expenditure, especially under the domestically-financed projects.

Gondwe: It was the Cabinet that approved

But during the committee of supply which scrutinises proposed arrangements vote by vote, members of Parliament (MPs) who  contributed expressed concern over the cuts to locally-funded projects in some government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

In their contribution, some of the MPs also took to task Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe over planned expenditure of about K1 billion of the Unforeseen Expenditures vote for logistics of food and other supplies to areas affected by natural disasters.

About K906 million under the vote was spent to respond to hailstorms which destroyed property at the start of the rainy season. From that amount, about K406 million was used for logistics.

Dowa West legislator Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) said being a constitutionally-provided for allocation which cannot be tampered with anyhow, government could not decide to use resources approved by Parliament for transport when they were equally needed in the face of catastrophic floods that have affected close to one million Malawians.

But Gondwe said: “Whatever is spent in this vote is done with the approval of the Cabinet. It was the Cabinet that approved that the remaining funds should go towards transportation costs.”

But upon insistence that transportation costs should have been factored into the budget for the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma) which was allocated K10.8 billion, the minister was forced to admit that the funding was not enough to cover logistics.

The revised budgets include a K44 million cut from Malawi Human Rights Commission vote, K63 million from the Office of the Ombudsman and K98 million from the Office of the Vice-President.

Treasury allocated K139.4 billion towards financing the development budget, but this has been revised downwards by K27.5 billion.

Queried on what projects will suffer as a result of the cuts, Gondwe told the House that projects whose allocations were chopped would not be funded because there was slow progress or they delayed to start.

Parliament, which is set to be constitutionally dissolved on March 20 to pave the way for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections, is scheduled to be adjourned today.

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