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Budget draws opposition fire

Two main opposition political parties, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP) on Monday took turns in highlighting loopholes in the 2015/16 national budget currently under scrutiny in Parliament.

MCP, through its Dowa West

MP, Alexander Dzonzi, laid out seven recommendations which the party wants Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe to address.

“This budget is illegal because it has not been deployed within the legal framework as set out in sections 14, 15, 18 and 19 of the Public Finance Act. We strongly recommend that the minister must adhere to the spirit of the laws that govern budgeting processes,” Dzonzi said.

He had earlier highlighted Section 14 of the Public Finance Management Act which states that the Minister of Finance shall submit to the national assembly and publish, not later than April 1 of each year, an economic fiscal policy statement which shall specify the needful.

On Section 15, Dzonzi said the minister shall lay before the National Assembly a written budget policy statement.

“Mr Speaker Sir, my reading of the annual budget and my recollection of all preceding events hitherto clearly show that the Honourable Minister of Finance has not and has never laid before this august House an Economic and Fiscal Policy that speaks to Malawians as to which direction our economy is going to take as required by Section 14 of the Public Finance Management Act.

“Going through the draft Financial Estimates tabled before this House, it is clear that the Minister of Finance has neither provided the economic and fiscal policies that underlie the present budget nor any policy objectives to be addressed by the budget in the 2015/2016 fiscal year,” Dzonzi said.

Other recommendations he gave were the need for an austerity budget, that government should make no expenditure without express authority of Parliament and that Gondwe should guide authorities at the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) on how monetary policies being followed should be implemented.

He also stressed the need for Gondwe to go back to the drawing board to match expenditure items with Malawi’s core economic requirements and the need for government to handle tendering processes of the replanting of Chikangawa Forest Reserve in an open and professional manner.

“Mr Speaker Sir, subject to the aforesaid and the express recommendations, the Malawi Congress Party supports the 2015/16 budget,” Dzonzi said.

In his speech, PP Chief Whip Ralph Jooma said the MPs were doing a disservice to the nation by deliberating and processing a new budget when there are a number of unresolved issues in the 2014/15 budget.

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