Rumphi East MP Kamlepo Kalua on Tuesday resumed his role as a lawmaker, after what the police claim is self-imposed abduction, to chair a crucial parliamentary cluster meeting in Lilongwe as parliamentarians met top government officials on the 2017/18 National Budget.
Donning a grey suit, red tie and brown shoes, Kalua chaired Public Accounts and Budget committees this is the first time he has attended to parliamentary business since he was found bound at Kwacha Roundabout in Blantyre after what he called an 11-day abduction ordeal.
Composed, relaxed and in good health, Kalua controlled the deliberations well and fired a number of questions when Accountant General, William Matambo, and his top management faced the joint committees.
Asked how he was feeling, he said: “This is my first attendance of Parliament and it feels good to chair this committee.”
Police say they may charge the firebrand and maverick legislator for allegedly lying to the law enforcers that he was abducted, but the parliamentarian maintains he was kidnapped and knows his kidnappers.
He refused to name them as he refuses to give more details on the issue.
But yesterday, Kalua was back in serious business away from the abduction stories.
He said he was impressed with the accountant general’s explanations and would lobby that the office be given all the K17.3 billion it has asked for.
“We are very impressed with your committee,” said Kalua as a smiling Matambo thanked them after an intense three-hour grilling by the committee members who wanted to find out why the office needed all that money.
Matambo told the attentive parliamentarians that his office faced a lot of challenges in the just-ended financial year and key among them include delays in provision of financial services due to inadequate and obsolete fleet, computer equipment and office furniture.
“Inadequate budget to provide support and management of Local Government Ifmis [Integrated Financial Management Information System], frequent power outages which affected the performance of the already aging Ifmis application and associated network infrastructure resulting in frequent system downtimes,” he said.
However, Matambo had also good news to tell the parliamentarians.
He said his office is conducting courses for its 3,000 strong accounts personnel spread across all the government departments to avert a recurrence of Cashgate, the plunder of public money at Capital Hill.
He also said that his office has trained Ifmis lead users for 60 offices, procured and implemented Ifmis security tools that would not allow anyone to go into the system in a bid to steal government money.
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