The forthcoming sitting of the National Assembly may not just consider the 2014/15 budget as the major item on its agenda, all things considered.
There is outstanding business from the previous meeting, including some substantive debate on the presidential jet sale and Cashgate—which got resuscitated.
Looking at its campaign manifesto, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration also has a loaded legislative agenda up its sleeves.
Leader of the House Francis Kasaila said on Friday he would only be aware today of the agenda that government will push through during the coming sitting of the National Assembly.
“I have been out of the country for some time. I am sure Monday is the only appropriate day that I may be able to have an idea about what government wishes to do,” he said.
Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya, who chairs the Business Committee that sets the agenda, could not be reached for comment.
Acting Clerk of Parliament Roosevelt Gondwe, who fixes the daily agenda through issuance of Order Papers, was also out of reach.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is expected to present a budget estimated at K743 billion whose resources Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) president, Newton Kambala, said in an interview would be rough to raise “because the resource envelope is squeezed, sources of resource generation are few and overstretched, while the commitments seem to be loaded.”
Treasury admits the challenges it faces: mounting debts, budget support freeze and the need to fulfil campaign promises.
Besides, Secretary to Treasury Newby Kumwembe says government intends to use the K743 billion in the 2014/15 budget as a platform to fix the damage to the economy that Cashgate caused.
In addition to the budget, the DPP-led administration also promised to enact and implement the Access to Information Bill during the next sitting as well as strengthen and implement sections 65 and 64 of the Constitution.
The ruling party also undertook to introduce legislation against handouts. This may have resulted from lamentation that politicians, especially during campaign, use various forms of gifts to the electorate with the aim of twisting their choice in favour of the benefactor.
The DPP also promised to introduce legislation against legislators increasing their own salaries willy-nilly. It could turn out to be one piece of legislation that would strike chords with the populace, but displease most law makers.
The agenda is hefty. How much of it can be done in the next meeting of Parliament that starts on September 1?