As the Malawi National Assembly resumes sitting today to review the first six months of implementing the 2014/15 National Budget, some opposition political parties have warned of stiff resistance should government fail to produce a conclusive explanation on its expenditure.
Malawi’s Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe is expected to report to the House whether the K737 billion (US$1.6 billion) fiscal plan’s implementation was on course or not.
Members of Parliament (MPs) passed the national budget in September 2014, which included a K210 billion three-month provisional budget the House approved immediately after Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took over power in June 2014.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, People’s Party (PP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) said they will wait for an all-embracing report on the budget execution before allowing a debate on additional allocations.
“As PP we are expecting government to give the House a proper explanation on how the funds have been used. We want to know how the national budget we approved is being implemented because that is a law and it has to be obeyed.
“Among others, we want to know how much has been collected in terms of tax and how much has government received in form of donations against what it has at the moment,” said PP parliamentary spokesperson on finance Ralph Jooma.
He said they were also eager to know the current stand on domestic borrowing following reports that government has already borrowed about K59 billion from the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).
“To us K59 billion within six months is just a lot of money which needs proper explanation considering that we have been hearing of improved tax collection over the past months. Unless all these are fully explained and we are convinced it will be difficult to begin debate on increments the finance minister will bring before the House,” he said.
On his part, UDF parliamentary spokesperson on finance Rashid John Pemba also said much as they feel very little has been done, a proper explanation was essential for smooth deliberations.
He said: “As UDF we have seen the trend our economy has taken, not much has materialised during the six months of DPP regime. However, our position is that it is high time government prioritise issues.
“Other than coming up with ambitious plans let us start looking at plans that as a country we can afford. We need to start economizing on certain things by focusing on what we can easily afford.”
Parliamentary spokesperson for the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), JosephNjobvuyalema, could not pick up his phone because, according to the party spokesperson Jessie Kabwila, the party politburo was holding a caucus ahead of today’s Parliament sitting.
According to Leader of the House Francis Kasaila, during the meeting parliamentarians will, among others, consider a proposal from the Executive to create a loan scheme which could be used by students that fail to access higher education due to lack of resources.
The House will also discuss the recent tragedy resulting from the floods in which more than 180 people have died with over 200 000 displaced, among other agenda items.