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Covid sparks government spending spree

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Agnes Nyalonje

The second wave of the Covid pandemic has forced the government to spend an additional sum of K37. 6 billion on Unforeseen Expenditures and the Ministry of Health.

On Unforeseen Expenditure, members of Parliament yesterday passed a vote that the approved provision of K2 billion be revised to K25.2 billion.

To the Ministry of Health, legislators agreed to adjust the allocated amount from K114.7 billion to K134.6 billion.

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The two votes were among the 24 that were passed by Parliament after debate.

Finance Minister Felix Mlusu told the august House that the Unforeseen Expenditure amount skyrocketed following the release of K17.5 billion towards Covid response programme as directed President Lazarus Chakwera.

An additional K4.5 billion was, however, used for the re-administration of Malawi School Certificate of Education examinations.

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“That is a huge increase in Unforeseen Expenditure and the reason is simple; there are two events that happened. One is the Covid pandemic, where, as we all know, the President declared a State of National Disaster and, under that, he directed that resources be released for use in dealing with that disaster,” Mlusu said.

He further indicated, in the case of adjustments to the Ministry of Health vote, that the adjustment was due to the additional K18.8 billion made available for Covid response, which would be provided by the Global Fund, and another K1.6 billion from the government, which has been used to recruit healthcare workers.

During the Committee of Supply stage, the legislators nodded to the proposal to adjust the allocation to the Ministry of Education from K99.6 billion to K108.5 billion.

Education Minister Agnes NyaLonje said the resources were meant for the provision of quality education services in the country.

The budget for the Accountant General Department has been revised to K16.4 billion from K11.469 billion as part of the revised Recurrent and Development Estimates budget.

Mlusu said part of the money would be used for clearing “huge outstanding” subscription arrears to international bodies while K2.9 billion would be used for settling arrears.

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