Parliament yesterday passed the revised K2.3 trillion 2020/21 National Budget to the relief of Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu who expressed optimism that government will meet the yawning deficit facing the fiscal plan.
In an interview at Parliament Building immediately after the passing of the budget, the minister said government appreciates that it faces an uphill task to meet revenue targets and the anticipated deficit but it is working on strategies to contain expenditure while expanding revenue sources.
Said Mlusu: “One of the things is liberalisation of exports of our produce, including maize. Starting this year, with the crop that is in the field now, we will allow businesses to export maize and other produce. We believe that should help us to revitalise the economy.”
On the increased allocation to State Residences which overspent during the first half, the minister said State Residences were in bad shape and in need of maintenance.
But the minister could not indicate what happened to the funds previously allocated for maintenance of State Residences, saying he was not aware.
After the passing of the budget in the morning, the House’s major focus in the afternoon was on two reports presented by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Shadreck Namalomba.
The Mangochi South West legislator affiliated to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party presented a report on PAC’s scrutiny of the Auditor General’s reports for local government councils for 2015 to 2018.
In this report, Namalomba bemoaned continued lack of adherence to public finance guidelines by most councils.
In the second report, focus was on the scrutiny of a special audit report on the misuse of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) where the committee recommended that some members of Parliament, both current and former, be brought to book for their role in the abuse of funds.
Major findings in this report include procurement and payments made for projects that did not exist, project materials not delivered or delivered with wrong specification, poor workmanship and several projects implemented with bills of quantity.
Namalomba said there is need to have CDF implementation reviewed to stop wastage of public resources.
Currently, at least six constituencies are under probe for alleged abuse of CDF. Former Mzimba Hora legislator Christopher Mzomera Ngwira was last year convicted for abusing CDF