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More pressure on Goodall Gondwe

Opposition members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday continued mounting pressure on Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, asking him to revise the budget framework currently being debated in the august House.

Some of the opposition lawmakers, who made their contributions to the national budget that was presented by Gondwe last month, made recommendations which they put across as conditions for the budget to be passed.

The MPs also expressed concern over government’s budget implementation, arguing that Parliament approves expenditure plans year after year, yet the poor Malawian continues being short-changed by policies which hardly trickle to the grassroots.

In his contribution, Lilongwe Mpenu-Nkhoma MP, Collins Kajawa, stressed that going by accounting principles, the current budget framework contains a lot of loopholes which raise questions on its clarity.

“It is difficult for us on the [opposition] side to form opinions on the budget that is being debated because it eliminates very important specific areas… Time permitting, this side of the House will be willing to offer its input so that we come up with a legitimate budget framework,” he said.

Kajawa also said government needs to come up with a tool for planning how to deal with situations where there has been under-collection of proceeds by the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA).

He also said the budget does not clearly declare the status of arrears which government intends t o settle and whether issues of teachers’ salaries and leave grants have been settled.

During the general debate, MP for Nkhotakota South East, Makowa Mwale, argued that his constituents are against the abolition of allowances for public universities students.

On his part, MP for Karonga South, Malani Mtonga, proposed that the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) should become universal “with the aim of reaching out to a wide range of Malawians”.

Balaka West MP, Shanil Dzimbiri, said Fisp needs modification for it to sustainably meet its objectives.

She also proposed that the programme should include commercial farmers with at least 200 hectares of land from where government can buy farm produce afterwards.

The legislators further demanded a report on how resources put together to assist people who were hit by natural disasters earlier this year were utilised.

Meanwhile, as debate on the budget continues, there are strong indications that Gondwe will be forced to make some significant modifications as it is being demanded by the lawmakers who have already described the financial blueprint as illegal in its current form.

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