The Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament says the revised K1.84 trillion 2019/20 National Budget could be altered to suit the government response to coronavirus (Covid-19) impact.
committee’s chairperson Sosten Gwengwe observed on Tuesday that once the budget is passed, it becomes law and any alterations may require parliamentary approval which has not been the case for Malawi.
He said there was need for Parliament to have an emergency meeting to regularise the bail-out package.
Said Gwengwe: “As we are speaking, the budget that we passed has been and will be altered significantly. That puts a question on the
relevance of Parliament in approving these budgets.
“If extra public resources are being consumed, one would expect that Parliament will be consulted. At the moment, our parliament is too rigid.”
However, Treasury spokesperson Davies Sado said the resources being channelled towards Covid-19, either public resources or those from development partners, will be reflected in the revised budget.
He said: “Government always adheres to tenets of transparency and accountability. All the resources are subjected to audit processes by the Auditor General’s office and the report is presented to Parliament.
“If there are Covid-19 procurements to be made then they have to follow procurement laws through relevant offices and Treasury validates the procurement before paying”.
He, however, said all the processes are in check to ensure that they do not derail the Covid-19 planned response activities.
As part of Covid-19 response, President Peter Mutharika ordered that his salary and that of Cabinet ministers be cut by 10 percent.
Government also announced it had reserved K15 billion for Covid-19 responses, out of which K1.1 billion has since been released by Treasury.
On Monday, the National Anti-Corruption Alliance also called on government to be transparent and accountable in the procurement of (Covid-19) materials and in managing resources allocated to the pandemic.
Covid-19 has rapidly spread from China to European countries and the United States of America, and recently it has been reported in 46 African countries, including Malawi where five confirmed cases have been reported.