Nkhata Bay North Member of Parliament (MP) Ephraim Mganda Chiume (People’s Party-PP) says budget meetings in the National Assembly are giving Malawians a raw deal because most MPs are passive and merely “rubber-stamping” the financial plans.
Chiume, a Cabinet minister during the administrations of Bingu wa Mutharika (deceased) and Joyce Banda, said he had observed that most MPs do not seriously scrutinise facts and figures in the proposed budgets.
The MP made the observations in his contribution to debate on the Mid-year Budget Review Statement Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe presented in Parliament last Friday.
He said he has observed the trait of passiveness and a lack of tenacity among MPs in all administrations, right from the country’s first Cabinet under founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda during the one-party rule to date.
Said Chiume: “What we are doing—and I mean all of us, collectively [on both the government and opposition benches]—is that we are merely rubber-stamping the budget. The House is not truly scrutinising the budget as expected.”
In his contribution, Chiume also suggested that the fertiliser and seeds being distributed to people nationwide under the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) need to be adjusted to take into consideration climate change realities that no longer subscribe to the old notion that rain starts falling in the Southern Region before it moves on to the Central and Northernon regions.
He commended Gondwe for reducing domestic borrowing, particularly since the government’s main revenue collector, the Malawi Revenue Authority, failed to meet its targets lately.
He advised Gondwe to fully account for all finances, as demanded by donors who have spearheaded development programmes in the country, if the minister’s hope of Malawi seeing light at the end of the tunnel is to be fulfilled.
In their contributions, most MPs described the proposed reduction of the budget by K23 billion as an unfortunate development that will hurt ordinary Malawians even more.
Lilongwe South MP Peter Dimba (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) said most Malawians are hungry and angry in the face of many socio-economic woes buffeting them.