Parliament has passed the revised 2019/20 National Budget which has been increased by K100 billion from the approved K1.74 trillion to K1.84 trillion during the Mid-Year Budget Review.
The increment was necessitated by additional allocations to some votes and the holding of fresh presidential election on May 19 2020 as ordered by the Constitutional Court which on February 3 nullified the May 21 2019 presidential poll.
The fresh election allocation has seen Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) vote getting K34 billion, K29.4 billion more than its initial allocation of K4.6 billion.
Malawi Police Service (MPS) has also seen a jump in its initial allocation by K23 billion from the approved K54 billion to K77 billion while Malawi Defence Force (MDF) received a K12 billion increase to K62 billion.
For MPS, K13.8 billion is meant for procuring equipment and ration food stuffs while K12 billion is set to take care of personal emoluments in terms of salary adjustments. The police enjoyed promotion privileges last year with 8 000 officers of various grades promoted.
In the revised budget, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has seen its budget rise to K4.3 billion from the initial allocation of K3.7 billion while the Office of the Ombudsman’s budget has slightly edged up to K985 million from the approved allocation of K708 million.
While the Office of the Vice-President’s approved allocation remains static at K5.6 billion, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) budget allocation has received a K900 million increment from K7.3 billion to K8.2 billion.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has also seen a jump in its budget from K167 billion to K185 billion.
The revisions drew questions from members of Parliament (MPs), notably those affiliated to Malawi Congress Party (MCP), who took to task Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Planning Joseph Mwanamvekha demanding immediate clarification on some allocations.
The MPs queried the minister to explain why government has been funding MEC chief elections officer’s account when it is not reflected in government’s electronic payment platforms Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis).
Kasungu Central legislator Ken Kandodo (MCP) said: “I am seeking clarification on MEC vote where the minister has appended large sums of money… However, in the general election some of the resources for conducting elections are channelled through the CEO account.
“That particular account is outside Ifmis and that poses a risk. We will be allocating another K34 billion to MEC. These are the resources that should be channelled through the bank account that is outside Ifmis. We want this account to be reflected in the system…”
On increased allocation to police, Mwanamvekha said it was necessitated by the experience police faced during the recent series of Human Rights Defenders Coalition-organised protests which exposed the need for more crowd control equipment.
On the bank account named MEC CEO, the minister said he would look into the concerns and address them accordingly.
In an interview later, MCP spokesperson on finance in Parliament Sosten Gwengwe insisted that government should have considered balancing allocations.
He further hinted MCP will ensure that MEC resources are channelled through bank accounts depicted in the Ifmis.
When he presented a mid-year budget last Friday, Mwanamvekha said total expenditure has been revised due to the increase in wages and salaries, security-related expenditures, court case expenditures and probable fresh presidential elections.