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Malawi government hits back at Parliament

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A proposal by the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament that votes linked to the presidency should be revised downwards has not gone down well with government which has since accused Parliament of playing double standards on the issue of revising the national budget.

Chairperson of the committee Rhino Chiphiko told Monday’s edition of The Daily Times that he expects that during the mid-year budget review slated for next January, funding cuts will be made to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and the Vice-President’s allocations, among others.

And in reaction to Chiphiko’s remarks, government spokesperson Jappie Mhango said he was shocked that the Budget and Finance Committee could come up with such a proposal that does not say anything about the National Assembly allocation.

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Mhango said while government does not say cuts cannot be made on votes linked to the presidency, the Executive has already made some sacrifices in the midst of the economic hurdles that Malawi is sailing through.

“The economy is indeed not doing well and the budget has to be reduced. But why can’t we start with Parliament itself since they are the representatives of the people? The Executive continues getting old salaries while [Members of Parliament (MPs)] are getting their new salaries.

“Since we [Cabinet Ministers] took office, we haven’t had new vehicles while the Leader of Opposition, the Speaker and his deputies purchased new vehicles worth not less than K300 million,” charged Mhango.

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He also took time to remind the lawmakers that they had threatened to sabotage the passing of the budget if allocations to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) were not revised upwards.

“The budget was bloated because, among others, the MPs demanded an increase in CDF. Right now, a deputy minister is getting less than an MP while the President is getting less than the Speaker. So, it is illogical for someone to suggest votes which should be cut and put aside their own vote,” said Mhango.

Chiphiko also suggested that allocations for the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme (Dahsp) and the Shire- Zambezi Waterway Project should be suspended so that the budget that is currently being implemented is within the available resources.

In reaction to the Budget Committee chairperson’s observations, Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said the Ministry of Finance would consider them once they are presented in writing.

Namakhwa.

He added that if the Council officials fail to procure the irrigation equipment for the gardeners, he will personally grab keys for their vehicles so that “they stop roaming to different places to get allowances.”

Another councillor, for State House Ward, Julius January, also expressed his frustration with Lilongwe City Council’s failure to take care of the city.

“We are bored with the outlook of the city. This is the capital city of Malawi. The President stays here in this city whose outlook is pathetic. So, we have decided to demonstrate that we are supposed to water our premises,” said January.

He added: “These directors come here on Council vehicles using Council fuel but they have no conscience that can prick them to take care of the city. Nothing is happening. They have opened the water taps because we have come.”

LCC Public Relations Officer, Tamara Chafunya, refused to comment on the action taken by the councillors.

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