Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday scrutinised the K4.8 billion (about $6.9million) allocation to the Office of the Vice-President and demanded an explanation for the 16 vehicles government plans to provide the office and service in the 2016/17 financial year.
Following the critical scrutiny of the allocation, Parliament managed to pass only nine votes, two less than those scrutinised during a four-hour sitting on Monday.
The summary of 16 vehicles for the Vice-President’s convoy and pool was outlined in the new programme-based approach budget document number five, but Rumphi East MP Kamlepo Kalua (People’s Party-PP) said it was a mockery of the austerity measures government was implementing.
However, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe explained that there were only six vehicles on the Veep’s convoy and that the rest were pool vehicles.
He said: “The rest are pool cars for the office because there are several departments he [the Vice-President] manages.”
A check of the budget documents indicated that the same number of vehicles to be serviced and provided were appearing in the sub-programme of transport and technical services with the indicator of 16 running vehicles for 2016/17 budget.
Vice-President Saulos Chilima was delegated functions of Public Sector Reforms Management, National Public Events Management and Disaster Management Affairs
MPs also queried the increased provision to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), arguing that it was not impartial in the distribution of food relief items.
The allocation, appearing under vote 240, with K3 billion from K366 million (about $528 000) in the previous year, raised eyebrows among some members who felt the allocation for disaster management should have gone to the Unforeseen Expenditure vote to avoid politicisation of the exercise.
Dodma plans to reach out to 5.2 million food insecure people affected by disasters which is an increase from three million last year.
“The document states that the department reached out to 176 000 affected by disasters, but I am failing to believe this. My constituency submitted 500 names, but not one benefitted from the funding last year. The distribution was politicised,” said Nkhotakota North East MP Everson Makowa Mwale (Malawi Congress Party-MCP).
In response, Gondwe said there was a classification of people where floods took place and it was not possible to reach out to everyone.
The debate on the Vice-President’s allocation took close to 90 minutes prompting Second Deputy Speaker Clement Chiwaya to abruptly curtail debate.
The vote passed with a resounding ‘aye’ from the government benches, but a few ‘no’ from the opposition.
In the afternoon, the House passed six votes among them K146 billion for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; K23 billion (about $33.1million) for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; K8 billion for Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development; and K21 billion (about $30.3million) for the Malawi Revenue Authority. n