Parliament on Tuesday adjourned earlier than schedule after legislators showed reluctance to continue with the business of the day as they still demand assurance from government on their General Purpose Administration (GPA) loans.
During the afternoon sitting, First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje suspended the deliberations for 30 minutes as she could not control the angry members of Parliament (MPs) who were demanding nothing but answers from government on the conditions of services.
Even the “words of wisdom” from former Speaker Davis Katsonga, currently MP for Mwanza Central, who told the House that it was out of order for legislators’ conditions of service to be discussed in the plenary, could not calm the visibly angry MPs.
Thirty minutes later business resumed, but about 45 minutes into the deliberations, the First Deputy Speaker was, once again, forced to adjourn the sitting to today after it became apparent that MPs were reluctant to contribute to the general debate.
MPs are tussling with government over the provision of GPA which ranges from K3 million (about $4 390) to K5 million (about $7 320) for each MP as stipulated in their conditions of service.
In the conditions of service, MPs are entitled to, among other things, a K24 million (about $35 140) motor vehicle loan, a GPA loan and K1 million (about $1 460) emergency loan.
GPA is a 36 months loan which all MPs are eligible to apply, including those in the governing party and House leadership—the Speaker and his two deputies—which government subsidises its interests.
Sources said delayed disbursement could attract large deductions due to the time factor.
Recent media reports indicated that government will not facilitate the access to the GPA, a thing that has irked the MPs.
In the afternoon sitting, MPs took turns to challenge Mcheka Chilenje on her proposition that Parliament deliberations should continue as Parliament’s Social Welfare Committee was meeting with Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe to discuss the thorny issue.
Social Welfare Committee chairperson Alexander Major told the media after the meeting with Gondwe that the matter was resolved as the minister has assured the MPs that “the people that were supposed to process the loans will now start the process.”
Major said the general discussion in Parliament will, therefore, proceed as normal.
But in a telephone interview later, Gondwe said the meeting he had with the committee did not resolve anything as the negotiations were still going on.
He said the MPs were supposed to access the loans through commercial banks, but were asking government to negotiate the interest rate at which the loans will be accessed. n