Malawi’s Finance Minister Maxwell Mkwezalamba claims government is spending within the budget approved by Parliament from July 1 last year.
Mkwezalamba said this on Tuesday in Blantyre in response to a concern raised by opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesperson Ken Ndanga during the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Third All-Inclusive Stakeholders Conference.
Ndanga claimed that government’s failure to call for the Mid-Term Budget Review meeting of Parliament indicated that it was spending outside the budget without authorisation.
But Mkwezalamba maintained that government was spending within the 2013/14 national budget as approved by Parliament.
He said government was working on a tight budget and that so far, everything is going according to plan.
Mkwezalamba also commented on reports that government delayed the release of the forensic audit report. He said the audit was being undertaken by British firm Baker Tilly funded by Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID); hence, the Malawi Government had no control.
He told the meeting that initially, government was told that the report would be out by the end of January and when it failed, the auditors kept on changing.
“We have been honest and transparent on the matter and, for your information, I received the report on 21 February after 4pm,” said Mkwezalamba who had travelled from Lilongwe earlier in the day for the meeting.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Fahad Assani said those found guilty in the cashgate, where about K13.7 billion (about $34.2m) was stolen, would face stiff punishment because they caused misery on the people.
There was a tense moment at some point when Ndanga talked about the untrustworthy action by the People’s Party who kept the vehicles connected to the scandal yet police confiscated a number of them.
Ndanga also pointed out that the High Level Development Council (HLDC), which president Joyce Banda recently established, is a drain of resources.
On this one, Matthews Chikaonda, who heads the council, was seemingly not happy with Ndanga’s comment, saying: “I was governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and I am keeping secrets. I was the minister of Finance [during UDF rule] who was signing cheques and I keep secrets. So, when you speak, you should be mindful.”