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Goodall Gondwe’s absence angers lawmakers

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Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe was absent for some time when Members of Parliament (MPs) were debating the proposed national budget on Tuesday and this did not go down well with the lawmakers who accused government of lacking seriousness as far as the budget is concerned.

But leader of the House Francis Kasaila said cabinet ministers work together as one entity such that issues discussed in Parliament would be easily delivered to relevant ministers if they were absent.

Rumphi East parliamentarian Kamlepo Kalua charged that it was out of order for most ministers to be absent when they were supposed to get the lawmakers’ input on the budget.

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“There are only four cabinet ministers and one deputy here. I think this shows government is not serious on issues of national importance,” said Kalua.

His observation followed hot on the heels of Kasaila’s interpolation in which he had accused MP for Mchinji South Divelias Zaipa of misleading the nation by stating that it is only allocations related to the presidency that have enjoyed budget increases.

Kasaila listed a number of ministries and departments – including the Ministry of Youth – which he said have their budgets increased, but MP for Dowa East Richard Chimwendo- Banda said that was not true.

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“In fact, it is the Hon. Minister who is misleading the nation by saying the allocation for the youth has been increased. A larger amount that has been added on the budget for youths is a loan but the actual budget is lower,” said Chimwendo- Banda.

In his contribution, Zaipa accused government of failing to lead by example in so far as an austerity budget is concerned.

He said: “It is pathetic that government has not made significant allocations to some important departments like the Judiciary, the police, the National Audit Office and the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

“When a budget is austere, there is always the need to tighten the seat belt and those in the driving seat should be exemplary. I think it is not wise for the [Ministry of Finance] to increase allocations for State Residences and the Office of the Vice-President.”

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