Parliament yesterday authorised Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Sosten Gwengwe to receive K265 billion as grants from the World Bank’s International Development Association for sanitation and social protection programmes.
The first package, contained in Bill Number 2 of 2023 worth K150 billion, is for the financing of the Water and Sanitation Project 1 for Blantyre City while the second package under Bill Number 3 of 2023 amounting to K115 billion is for social support for resilient livelihoods projects.
Gwengwe said now that Parliament has authorised special drawing rights (SDR) with the passage of the two money Bills, government can access the funds as soon as possible to roll out the projects expected to play a major role in the Cyclone Freddy recovery process.
He said: “Since the Bills have passed, we are proceeding to sign the memorandum of understanding [MoU] with the World Bank even tomorrow so that the funds are made available to the targeted projects.”
Gwengwe said Blantyre Water Board (BWB) will implement the water and sanitation project expected to improve water supply and sanitation systems in Blantyre City and also empower the board to use its facilities to the maximum while avoiding wastage.
“We also want to move with speed because funds under the social support for resilient livelihood projects are intended to be used for poverty reduction programmes such as social cash transfer which we believe will heavily support the affected households,” he said.
Commenting on Bill Number 2 of 2023, United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson on the Bill, Lilian Patel, said the water project financing has come at the right time when Blantyre City is heavily affected by intermittent water supply.
She said: “I know how serious the water problem is in Blantyre. There could be no better time to pass such a Bill as this one because it will benefit many people who are subjected to using unreliable water sources.”
Taking his turn, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson on the Bill Francesca Masamba highlighted key areas where water is critical but it is rarely found.
“You need water in the hospitals, water in schools and water in the markets because these are public places and hygiene is very crucial,” she said.
Similarly, leader of UDF in Parliament Ned Poya said the Bill has come at the right time but warned that any form of misuse of funds meant for the aggrieved families will not be tolerated.