Opposition members of Parliament (MPs) yesterday took turns to critique the proposed 2015/16 National Budget, saying it is an illegal document because it has not been developed within the framework of the Public Finance Management Act.
In his reaction after a two-week Parliament recess, Dowa West MP Alexander Dzonzi (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) described the budget as a bankers’ budget, where money has been made a product and not a means to production.
His remarks attracted applause from opposition benches as government MPs booed.
Said Dzonzi: “This is why the minister is more engrossed with macro-economic fundamentals such as interest rates and flexible exchange rates without paying attention to the true needs of the productive sectors such as agriculture or manufacturing.”
He said the prevailing economic fundamentals make it mandatory that Malawi should implement an austerity budget.
Said Dzonzi: “We, therefore, recommend that the minister must go back to the drawing board and sift out all unnecessary expenditures in order to re-align our economic priorities.
“This budget Mr Speaker, Sir, cannot and will not spur economic productivity because it is designed to service debts and not to re-engineer the production sector.”
Mangochi Monkey Bay MP and People’s Party (PP) spokesperson on finance in Parliament, Ralph Jooma said this year’s budget needs to be interrogated on each and every vote because the budget does not indicate how much is being funded to each vote.
Said Jooma: “In the past, we used to have a column for preliminary out turns. I am talking about the time, we, PP were ruling. Why is this column hidden?
“Although it is being highly proclaimed that we have a lot of foreign reserves now, this is not reflected on the ground and the exchange rate is somewhere between K460 and K480 to the dollar.
“So, basically, Mr Speaker, Sir, we think that inflation [rate] will not be as low, exchange rates not as stable, interest rates will remain high and industry capacity utilisation will subdue and therefore hamper economic growth because the economy will not be able to produce the projected goods and services.”
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said during pre-budget consultations that the budget will be shrunk and will be an intellectual budget that will be difficult to sell to Malawians, including MPs.