Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has yesterday given members of Parliament (MPs) their wish to have their conditions of service implemented.
The minister also told Parliament that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) will be increased from K12 million to K25 million. However, he said the CDF raise will depend on availability of funds.
This announcement came after Gondwe had earlier described actions of some members of Parliament (MPs) as bent at frustrating the passing of the 2016/17 National Budget.
The minister was reacting in Parliament yesterday morning after business was suspended amid demands by MPs for assurances on implementation of their conditions of service, including access to General Purpose Administration (GPA) loans, before the House could go into the committee stage to scrutinise the budget allocations.
Speaking after First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje called for the suspension, Gondwe said he did not understand why some MPs called for the suspension when an agreement had already been made.
He said: “I don’t understand where the government is wrong. I think there are some people who want to make use of this to reject the budget because we have not given them interest-free loans. We cannot do that because of the situation the country is in now.
“We have a lot of things to be done this year, including finding maize for the people and it is going to cost us a lot of money. We cannot give the MPs interest-free loans or subsidies to the extent they like. We don’t have money to spend. We only have enough money for essential activities of government including the purchasing of maize.”
But the chairperson of the Parliament’s Social Welfare Committee, Alex Major, dismissed Gondwe’s explanation.
He said if the money was given, there would be no need for them to suspend House proceedings as it would be insanity.
Said Major: “This is Private Member’s day. The Speaker announced that committee of supply will come on Monday. So, by saying we are trying to sabotage the budget what does he mean? There are some in government who are not working and it is very bad. My salary comes from the same budget, so how will I benefit if he is saying am trying to shoot down the budget?”
In an interview after the afternoon sitting, Major said the minister agreed to adhere to their demands and the two parties have signed for it.
He said: “We had a meeting for over an hour during the afternoon sitting where these issues were discussed. We are happy with the position government has taken and we have rested our case. If he does not fulfil then an appropriate action will be taken but for now we are happy.”
Last week, Parliament went into an uproar over the conditions of services which include GPA and emergency loans.
GPA is a 36 months loan amounting to K3 million which all MPs are eligible to apply. Government subsidises its interests. n