A total of 53 votes have been passed since Parliamentâ€™s Committee of Supply began on Monday afternoon, a development that means the over K408 billion (about $1.6 billion) budget will likely be passed on Wednesday.
Only four votes, among them the National Assembly and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), were outstanding at the close of business last evening.
Nineteen votes, including those for the ministries of Information, Home Affairs, Justice, Tourism and Culture and departments such as the Registrar General, Immigration, the Malawi Police Service, were among those approved in the day.
In the morning, 13 votes were approved. And just like on Monday, the House adjourned hours after the official normal time of 5pm, despite some resistance from the opposition side.
Meanwhile, opposition and government MPs in the afternoon also unified in questioning Minister of Transport and Public Works Sidik Mia on why roads which government promised to work on are not appearing in the 2012/2013 budget.
Among the roads that took centre-stage during the almost one hour debate on this vote was the Nkhata Bay-Mzuzu and the Zomba-Chingale stretches.
Commenting on the over K2 billion budget allocation to the ministry, Blantyre North legislator Francis Phiso wondered why despite several assurances from Mia and Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga,Â both in the previous and current governments, there are no monetary resources allocated towards the bituminisation of the Zomba-Chingale Road.
Amid hand clapping from both sides of the House, the MP said: â€œThe importance of the road cannot be overemphasised as its construction will benefit people in Blantyre North, Zomba Chingale, Zomba Lisanjala and Machinga Likwenu constituencies.â€
In response, Mia said:Â â€œThere is no budget line for the construction of new roads. The Zomba-Chingale Road is among governmentâ€™s priority roads which should be bituminised.Â However, as you may recall, we are having a recovery budget. As such, there are no monetary resources for the construction of new roads.â€
However, more follow up questions fell on the minister. Nkhata Bay Central legislator Symon Vuwa Kaunda queried the minister on the status of the Mzuzu Road, as it is also not appearing in the budget.
â€œIt is surprising that the road is not appearing in the budget yet just last week, officials from his ministry conducted an…assessmentâ€, said Vuwa Kaunda. He argued the road is very important as it connects several districts in the Northern Region.
Mia said government has agreed with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finance the road.
Said the minister: â€œWe are making progress on the matter and currently grading of the road is going on. Soon, the House will be asked to grant government an authorisation to borrow money from the AfDB for the projectâ€.
First Deputy Speaker Jones Chingola, sitting as committee of supply chair, had to rescue the minister by curtailing debate on the vote, after 15 MPs made contributions.