THE Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development has said it will take advantage of the next budget session to grill Ministry of Agriculture officials on the irregularities dodging the Farm Input Subsidy Programme.
The House is scheduled to start meeting next month to discuss the 2017/18 National Budget.
In an interview yesterday, the committee’s Chairperson, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, said they intend to meet officials from the ministry to obtain information relevant to the ongoing investigations.
The plan follows the committee’s recent complaint that some government agencies are reluctant to provide information regarding how Fisp was delivered last year.
Malunga said since it has been hard to get the information, the committee intends to use the budget session to question the responsible officials on the matter.
He added that although there have been hiccups in their probe of Fisp, the committee would not give up because there are many irregularities that need to be clarified.
“We are sure that the officials would attend the budget session, hence we would like to use the opportunity to enquire regarding how the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme was carried out. There are many issues that need to be looked into because we observed that some suppliers didn’t do their job well,” Malunga said.
However, Malunga said the committee would not be able to interrogate the suppliers because it has not yet received funds for the job.
“The big worry now is that because of lack of funds, we won’t be able to summon the suppliers although they are the main players. This has been the major challenge but we have not given up because our donors are looking into our proposal,” added Malunga.
National Secretary for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Martin Chiphwanya, recently faulted the failure to evaluate Fisp as a missed opportunity.
“As you are aware, Fisp has been riddled with so many issues, hence the need for the committee to enquire from the relevant authorities,” Chiphwanya said.
Church and Society of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia equally bemoaned the failure to evaluate Fisp and upheld the committee for its commitment to strengthening democratic values.
Moses Mkandawire, Executive Director of Church and Society, urged the government to provide the committee with the resources because it is not ideal to rely on donors on critical issues.
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