Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament chairperson Sosten Gwengwe has said his committee will propose that the K2 trillion 2020/21 National Budget be withdrawn to allow the new government factor in its development plans.
He said this yesterday in Lilongwe after unofficial election results showed that Tonse Alliance torch-bearer Lazarus Chakwera may be declared Malawi’s sixth president. Chakwera’s running mate, the country’s estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima—who is also UTM Party president—will remain in the position.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha unveiled the ambitious budget on June 12 and parliamentary committees were last week deliberating the budget in clusters.
But acknowledging that prospects of the new government had brought a new leadership dimension, including the status of Mwanamvekha and his other Cabinet ministers in the incumbent government, Gwengwe said his committee will propose the budget withdrawal under a resolution for a provisional three-month budget for the new government. The annual budget calendar starts on July 1.
He said: “The budget will be withdrawn. Parliament will have to pass a resolution authorising the next minister of finance to spend beyond 1st July. The new minister of finance should prepare a provisional budget, normally for four months.”
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) was yet to announce the winner of the election, ahead of the Monday meeting of the 193-member Parliament for the budget session that broke off for a week to pave the way for the electoral process.
In a separate interview, Parliament spokesperson Ian Mwenye said the House is anticipating new developments and official communication from Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara on operational protocols.
Meanwhile, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College economics professor Ben Kalua has said the new government needs to get on with setting up a strong governance structure to not only tackle pressing socio-economic challenges, but also the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which has so far affected 960 people with 12 deaths.
Malawi went to the polls on Tuesday following nullification of the May 2019 presidential election, which was marred by irregularities.