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Budget deductions worry Members of Parliament

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SOSTEN GWENGWE

Members of Parliament (MPs) Friday expressed disappointment over significant budget reductions to some key ministries.

Friday, Parliament scrutinized votes for the Ministry of Health, Water and Sanitation, Roads Fund Administration and Ministry of Education, among others, where budget cuts were made.

The Ministry of Health’s budget has been reduced by K41 billion, Roads Fund Administration by over K50 billion while the Ministry of Water and Sanitation has had a K28 billion reduction.

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MP for Mangochi North East, Ajilu Kalitendere, said it was unfortunate that the Ministry of Health has had a budget cut when there are so many gaps in the health sector with constituents asked to buy drugs when they seek medical care.

Chairperson of Budget and Finance committee Gladys Ganda said the Other Recurrent Transactions budget should have been maintained or increased, considering the outbreak of cholera that the country is grappling with.

“We have so many other things that need resources in the health sector. We have got the issue of drugs even in the development projects. The government policy is to have a health centre closer to people but in other constituencies we do not have a public health centre,” she said.

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She further said it is also unfortunate that while donors were willing to assist the country with water projects, the government failed to utilize the funds hence the reduced budget amid serious water challenges.

Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe said the reduction at the Ministry of Health is due to the anticipated K100 billion World Bank which would cater for utilities part of the grant.

Gwengwe further said major reductions have been made towards capital expenditure due to contracting issues.

“There were price escalations given the devaluation that has been made and also inflation so most of the contracts want to revise their contracts that delayed the commencement of quite a number of projects,” he said.

Executive Director Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Willy Kambwandira said:

“This is very unfortunate, it is sad that Parliament has decided to increase budgetary allocations on non-priority areas as the expense of critical infrastructure projects that have direct impact on lives of Malawians.”

About 20 votes were scrutinized and passed with the expectation that the remaining 21 will be scrutinized next week and approved for the revised K2.85 trillion 2022-2023 financial budget.

Parliament reconvened on November 14, 2022 for mid-year budget review for the 2022-2023 financial year.

It will adjourn on December 16, 2022.

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