Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu has maintained Parliament’s budgetary allocation a day after members of Parliament (MPs) rejected a vote that would have seen the House budget reduced from about K20.8 billion to K19.8 billion.
The minister, while presenting the Mid-Year Budget Review last week, announced the cut in a parliamentary budget, arguing there were no external travels and other engagements due to Covid-19.
However, when it came to approving the vote on Monday, legislators deferred the vote which forced the minister to review it and maintain the allocation.
But yesterday, Mlusu announced that the allocation be maintained at about K20.8 billion which the MPs approved.
Speaking in an interview later, Mlusu justified the cut ,saying there have been no external and internal travels due to Covid-19 hence it will be hard to exhaust the money at the end.
He said: “Of course, I am comfortable that the allocation has been maintained. But we will still have the K1 billion left at the end because there are no travels.”
On her part, Budget and Finance Committee chairperson Gladys Ganda said the MPs were against the reduction because there was no proper justification for it.
She said it was surprising that only the National Assembly budget was being cut on the basis of external travels while other institutions had their budgets maintained or increased.
Said Ganda: “There is a backlog of activities that MPs need to clear and reducing the budget will affect the operations. Actually, the money that was allocated is not enough so reducing it would have had an impact on operations of Parliament.”
She said it would have been better if Mlusu did not increase funding to State Residences, adding the extra money could have gone towards fighting Covid-19.
Mlusu increased the budget for State Residences from about K6.5 billion to K8.4 billion.
Democratic Progressive Party chief whip Simon Vuwa Kaunda also said there was no proper justification in reducing the National Assembly vote.
He said there are activities that need to be undertaken.
Parliament has passed 17 votes in the Mid-Year Budget Review with some votes being reduced, while others have been maintained or increased