At exactly 18:30 Thursday, Parliament passed the K1.149 trillion 2016/17 national budget after a total of K8.6 billion had been added, through a supplementary Order Paper, on the initial K1.141 trillion which Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe had wanted the lawmakers to approve.
The additional amount emanated from upward adjustments in allocations to the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) and the Department of Human Resource Management and Development (DHRMD) and a new allocation to the Greenbelt Authority.
The allocation to NLGFC, from where the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) comes, has been increased from K51.5 billion to K52 billion in virtue of the increase in the CDF from K12 million to K18 million per constituency.
Funds for the DHRMD have been increased by K7.7 billion while the Greenbelt Authority has been allocated an amount of K300 million.
Gondwe said the increase in the allocation for the DHRMD was due to another salary hike which government has effected to lower-grade civil servants on top of the initial 15 percent which he announced in his budget statement.
“For the Greenbelt Authority, it is important that funds should be allocated because there is need to set up staff,” said Gondwe, adding that institutions including the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank have committed to support the authority.
However, the creation of a new vote for the authority stirred debate in the National Assembly with opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) arguing that its allocation was suspicious.
But after some disagreements on the matter, the vote still passed.
In an interview after the budget had passed, Leader of the House George Chaponda said the contributions from both sides had been constructive.
“The passing of the budget will allow government undertake different development projects because we have been authorised to spend according to the allocations approved by the honourable members,” said Chaponda.
And Leader of Opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, also hailed the scrutiny on the national budget which he said has entailed how serious the MPs are when it comes to issues of national interest.
“We may not be 120 percent happy, but the budget has passed and this is what is important. There has always been a lot of willingness from both sides, especially the opposition and independent sides to contribute, but for everything, there should be a cut-off point,” he said.
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