Misrepresentation of facts on a Bill that government was seeking Parliament to authorise access to funds for a nutrition and HIV and Aids project nearly sent the House on fire.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe presented in the House the Bill that government sought authority to access money from the International Development Association (IDA).
However, in the Bill, the word ‘loan’ was inserted that sent members of Parliament (MPs), especially from the opposition, questioning why government was borrowing money for the project when Ministry of Health receives grants from the Global Fund for the same.
In his presentation, the minister told the National Assembly that the Global Fund had permitted government to divert $7 million for the nutrition and HIV and Aids project to help in Ebola alert.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson on health Juliana Lunguzi expressed her dissatisfaction with government’s intention to borrow money for the project when government was failing to absorb money that Global Fund was providing for the same.
Lunguzi, who is Dedza East MP, went out of her way to outline to the minister billions of kwacha in grants that government accesses from Global Fund and other international institutions that target nutrition and HIV and Aids.
However, Gondwe clarified that the said amount was a grant and that the word ‘loan’ was wrongly inserted.
“Sometimes when you go to Ministry of Justice to ask them to draft a Bill they always assume it is a loan. This was a grant,” he said.
However, the issue of low absorption of donor funded programmes by Ministry of Health dug deep in the discussions with People’s Party spokesperson on health Agnes Nyalonje, who is also Mzimba North MP, pointed out the challenges in the Ministry of Health in the implementation of programmes. n