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Members of Parliament arm-twist Goodall Gondwe on budget

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Members of Parliament (MPs) Thursday forced the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, to increase the abuse-prone Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from K18 million to K23 million instead of the initially planned K20m before passing the K1.323 trillion 2017/2018 budget.

Gondwe had put his foot down that with various reports of CDF abuses by some parliamentarians, Treasury could not risk adding more than K2 million to the allocation for each of the 193 constituencies in the country.

The MPs who stood up to protest a K2 million increase were proposing an increase of about 66 percent which would see constituencies getting K30 million each.

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But Gondwe insisted that there was need to review the CDF guidelines first before risking funds to some dishonest lawmakers who are using the funds in the construction of either substandard structures or for their personal gains.

“The officials are saying there is gross abuse of the CDF as we have some Members of Parliament who ask District Commissioners for resources for a bridge in their constituency, yet such resources will end up in their pockets or if they do, they construct a poor standard structure. So, what we are saying is we will only increase the funds to K30 million after reviewing the rules,” Gondwe said.

Member of Parliament for Dowa East, Richard Chimwendo Banda, however, told Gondwe to take the funds abusers to task instead of waiting for the time parliamentarians discuss the local government finance committee vote which supports CDF to make people believe that MPs abuse funds.

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“Why not using the laws to punish such people? Does it mean that we are accepting that people should be abusing resources, Honourable Minister? When people say there are some people who are abusing CDF, it is not everybody. If there are people who are abusing resources then deal with them instead of punishing us,” Chimwendo Banda said.

The situation resulted in the suspension of the House for over 40 minutes for the business committee to discuss.

After the discussion, Gondwe said they had agreed to settle for K23 million, reducing the planned constituency water project fund amounting to K15 million to K12 million for each constituency in the process

Responding to the passing of the budget, Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Lazarus Chakwera, said there is need to deal with corruption during its implementation.

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