Opposition on government’s neck
People’s Party (PP) is expected to use the 2017/18 mid-year budget review meeting which starts today to press Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, to come out clear on the contentious K25 billion Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) bailout.
Leader of PP in the House, Ralph Mhone, said the party will also seek answers on the whereabouts of K10 billion realised from the Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) sale and how much has been recovered from K6.1 billion that companies owed the bank before the sale two years ago
Mhone said Admarc bailout, which was not budgeted for, has affected some important areas that were duly budgeted for.
“We expect the Minister of Finance to give us a good reason why they decided to do that and what it is going to do about the budgeted for lines which have not been funded? But, apart from that, we also want him to give us hope that the budgeted for line items will not be cut, given the bailout that [the ministry] made,” Mhone said.
He said the government was advised not to embark on Admarc’s Zambia maize procurement process and to let Admarc sell the maize in its reserves to settle its loans with commercial banks but the government decided otherwise.
Mhone also said Gondwe must account for what happened with billions from the MSB sale as, last time, he told the National Assembly that the government was contemplating on what to do with the money.
According to Mhone, there is need to put in place measures to ensure that people do not starve, saying people must be empowered to grow crops that would mitigate the impact of dry spells and the fall armyworm, in a move away from the usual handouts.
Leader of Government in the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa, said, immediately after the House seats on Monday, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Joseph Mwanamvekha, would present a ministerial statement on the dry spell and fall armyworm attacks.
“Right away at 2 o’clock [in the afternoon], we will be tackling this issue,” Nankhumwa said.
He also said, apart from the budget review, the house is expected to tackle some bills, statements and reports and questions.
In earlier interviews, Malawi Congress Party spokesperson on finance, Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi, doubted the 6.1 percent economic growth that the government has been projecting for the year under review.
Alliance for Democracy Aford president, Enock Chihana, said there is nothing to review and the mid-ear budget review is just a waste of time.
In June last year, Parliament passed the K1.3 trillion 2017/18 budget and the Parliament meeting which runs from February 5 to March 2 will scrutinise how the budget has been implemented in the past six months and make adjustments, where necessary.
Meanwhile, PP has appointed Zomba Changalume legislator John Chikalimba as the party’s Chief Whip, replacing Ralph Jooma, who resigned from the position. Chikalimba’s deputy is Chitipa North lawmaker James Munthali
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