The Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament has questioned government’s justification to allocate K1.6 billion in the proposed 2019/20 National Budget for the construction of stadia for local football giants Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers.
In an interview yesterday, the committee’s chairperson Sosten Gwengwe said they want an explanation on how government will implement the projects without contravening the Public Finance Management Act of 2003.
“Public funds are given to government departments and ministries to benefit Malawians in accordance with the Act.
“So, while there is need to consider the youth who can benefit from the stadia, at the same time we should not overlook the law. Therefore, government should justify the move to use public resources for the benefit of private entities,” he said.
“Perhaps an option would have been to construct the stadia and then lend them to the teams that are doing well such as Bullets and Wanderers.”
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha was not available for comment yesterday, but speaking when he presented his maiden fiscal plan in Parliament in Lilongwe on September 9, the minister justified the move, saying the stadia would benefit the youth and the public.
And contributing on the same issue in Parliament yesterday, Dowa East legislator Richard Chimwendo Banda (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) opposed the move, saying: “I cannot allow government resources—hard-earned resources—meant to buy drugs in hospitals, to build school infrastructure, to [be used to] build stadiums for private companies.
“Why can’t you build a stadium for Mzuzu, why not Blantyre National Stadium…. What about Chitipa United, what about Karonga United? What about other teams? Let us face the reality. Don’t use taxpayers’ money to enhance private companies.
“If you want to help Bullets and Wanderers, access loans for them and be a guarantor, that’s all.”
However, during an audience he had with the two clubs at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on September 4, the President defended the move to construct stadia for the two privately owned teams, saying: “That criticism is not justified. We are doing this to develop football in this country. Besides, these stadiums will always be used and enjoyed by the public.”