The Mid-Year Review Meeting of Parliament ended yesterday with the approval of the revised 2016/17 National Budget amounting to K1.132 trillion down from K1.144 trillion.
However, legislators return home after failing to conclude critical business that was lined up for debate in the House, including finalising the Zambia maize import report.
Other pending issues include a ministerial statement on government’s corruption fight and debate on committee reports such as the review of Standing Orders by the Legal Affairs Committee.
Outstanding bills include Public Audit (Amendment) Bill, Political Parties Bill, Pesticides (amendment) Bill and Constitution (Amendment) Bill Number 2 which seeks to devolve powers to the Auditor General.
In his remarks before the House adjourned sine die, (adjourned with no appointed date for continuation of business) leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera reiterated that he would continue to push for the review of Standing Orders to allow for a sitting president to appear before Parliament and respond to questions from members of Parliament.
On several occasions, President Peter Mutharika has refused to appear before Parliament, arguing that he delegated such powers to ministers present in the House.
“It is another concern that this House continues to operate without proper Standing Orders that enables the head of government, who is also the head of State to account to Malawians to answer questions from people who represent them. We need to face these challenges square on,” he said.
Chakwera also expressed concern about the lack of independence of the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Auditor General as well as the slow process in implementing electoral reforms.
Last week, government rejected a Bill to amend electoral laws, especially management of results on elections day, arguing that the Malawi Law Commission was working on them.
Chakwera, however, applauded MPs for standing above partisan politics in raising the bar high by deliberating on issues of national importance.
He cited the passing of Constitutional Amendment that changed the age of a child from 15 to 18 and various committee reports that were welcomed by both the opposition and government sides.
“We have passed the budget with concerns, but for the sake of Malawians, for the sake of our youths and for the sake of women, we need the crucial services in our hospitals and in our schools. So, we had to do the needful,” Chakwera said.
In his remarks which began with a long preamble of gratitude for the position, Leader of House Kondwani Nankhumwa thanked both sides of the House for the smooth deliberations on issues concerning Malawians.
However, Nankhumwa did not mention the tough situation that his predecessor George Chaponda faced as he attempted to execute his duties after coming under fire for his role in the importation of maize from neighbouring Zambia.
The former minister has not been seen in the House since he was relieved of his ministerial duties.
Nankhumwa said he was aware that Parliament was not fully carrying out its oversight functions as committees were not able to meet as often as they could.
The House is expected to resume meeting in May when the President is expected to open a new session which will begin with the 2017/18 budget meeting.