Parliament on Thursday approved to trim K10 billion from the K1.323 trillion 2017-18 National Budget to K1.313 trillion with some departments and agencies having reductions some members said were not supposed to happen.
For instance, there is an addition to vote 278 Unforeseen Expenditure which has received a K10 billion boost.
But the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), which is currently in funding hardships, had its allocation of K12.2 billion reduced by K1 billion, a development that Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament said is worrisome given that MEC is preparing for next year’s elections.
“MEC wanted more money for preparations in the 2019 elections. They are going through funding hardships as we are going towards the general elections, so deducting about K1 billion is a major blow to the commission,” said Thyolera.
The commission needs about K42 billion to run the next general election in 2019, of which government has already released K9billion.
Said Ansah, “Out of K42 billion budgeted for the entire tripartite elections, a total of K9 billion has already been provided by government in the current national budget. This leaves a sum of K32 billion to be provided in the 2018-2019 national budget.”
Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe said what they have given the commission is enough for the year even though they know that the body is in need of a lot of money.
“MEC wanted more money we started to give them more money two years ago, we are hoping donors to come in, we will see how far we will go next year but for this year it is okay,” he said.
The minister also said the budget will continue to face some problems.
“We have about two problems—that MRA [Malawi Revenue Authority] makes up for the reduction of revenues, for the first half; and the dry spell could have devastating effect on the maize,” he said.