After speaking out against the prospect of our members of Parliament rejecting the national budget over unrelated matters, I guess it is only fair that I come again to congratulate the honourable members for passing the budget last Thursday after what I would call one of the best debates on the government annual financial plan I have ever witnessed.
I really had reservations about the threats of rejecting the budget which were being issued prior to last Thursday, especially considering the reasons that were raised were completely unrelated to the budget.
It think it would have been folly of our honourable members to spend weeks in cluster meetings scrutinising the budget, raise pertinent and valid issues about the budget and even getting Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe to make adjustments in some areas only to end up throwing the whole financial plan based on issues outside the documents.
It would have been something else and perhaps understandable if the MPs had considered rejecting the budget over serious concerns because it would probably have taken a correction of that issue for the plan to be reconsidered for approval by the house.
But when passage of the budget is attached to every argument between the government and opposition sides in the house, including petty matters based on outsmarting of each other between the two sides, then questions arise as to the kind of seriousness the MPs attach to the budget.
The national budget, regardless of the colours the one championing it wears, is not for a political party or only for those in government. It is a serious document that not only allocates resources and outlines government plans for critical social service delivery, it also sets the tone for economic activity and defines the business landscape in the coming year.
It is a plan which businesses, prospective investors, financiers, development partners and economic analysts use to project economic prospects in the country and decide how they want to relate with the country economically.
The voters and constituents who sent all the MPs to the national assembly expect various social services and development projects whose resources are allocated through the budget. I can bet that none of the MPs would be welcomed in their constituencies if the people were to be told the truth that they had rejected the budget based on most if not all the reasons that were being cited in the house until last week.
In other words, the national budget is not something that should be played with, especially by honourable MPs who have the largest responsibility of scrutinizing and making sure that it reflects reality and is in the best interest of the country before approving.
Playing around with the budget by delaying or rejecting it based on flimsy and petty reasons can create political and economic uncertainty that can scare away prospective investors, financiers and even tourism from the country.
It would also be a big let down to the voters, constituents and all the people of Malawi who expect the MPs to be serious when handling issues that affect their lives.
So while indeed we expect Parliament to be strong and aggressive in holding the government accountable, the MPs need to be reasonable with the kind of measures they can use to force the government to comply to their demands.
I t should be said that Malawians should consider themselves lucky again to have an opposition which is stronger than the government in the national assembly as it has been proven in the recent past that the government performs better with a powerful opposition in the august house.
With a reduced donor clout in the country as a result of withdrawn international support to the country, Malawians now have to rely more on strong oversight institutions such as Parliament, the judiciary, the media and the civil society to check on the government by making sure that it is performing to expectation and is not abusing its power.
But all these establishments have to be responsible and accountable in their work too by using their powers rightly and for the benefit of the people of Malawi. Once they start using the powers just to gain political mileage and line up their pockets, the results can be detrimental to the country.
People must always come first in whatever we do when performing the respective jobs as entrusted on us. Political games have their own fields of play. Let us desist from using the budget and other important business meant for the people in settling political scores against our rivals.
Congratulations once again to our MPs for successfully discussing and approving the national budget. That is what the people of Malawi sent you to do in Parliament. #ThumbsUp!
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