Parliament adjourns sine die
By Cathy Maulidi:
Parliament has finished its deliberations after meeting for eight weeks.
The House has risen sine die after passing 14 bills and deliberating several ministerial statements, according to the Leader of the House, Richard Chimwendo Banda.
The House also passed the 2023-2024 national budget which was pegged at K3.78 trillion.
Delivering his adjournment remarks, Chimwendo described the first meeting of the 50th session of Parliament as a sad one.
“It has been a good process mixed with some sadness because of the Cyclone Freddy that came amidst the sitting.
“But despite the challenge, we have achieved almost everything that we prepared. Starting from the State of the Nation Address, the passing of the budget, bills and many ministerial statements,” Chimwendo said.
This meeting of Parliament as usual was also met with absenteeism of Members of Parliament.
In one instance, the House convened meeting with only 65 members present, a thing that angered the first deputy speaker Madalitso Kazombo who reminded the MPs that they were using taxpayers’ money and should therefore should take their attendance seriously.
On this day, 131 MPs were reported absent according to a roll call that was conducted.
Commenting on the absenteeism, the Leader of the House said Members’ absence on some days was justifiable.
“Yes, there was a two week period that was affected by low attendance. This is because our colleagues in the southern region were attending to the disaster but generally the meeting has been good and members were dedicated and the debate has been mature. I have seen democracy growing,” Chimwendo said.
During the session, Parliament passed some money bills which have already been assented to by President Lazarus Chakwera.
They are two authorization bills; International Development Association (water and sanitation project) and International Development Association (second additional financing for the Social Support for Resilient Livelihood Project) that allows government receive grants from development partners.
The other three are taxation bills; Customs and excise, Taxation and Value Added Tax that amended tax systems.
There was also Appropriation Bill that authorizes Minister of Finance to start using the K3.78 trillion budget that was approved by Parliament.
The House also passed the most talked about Disaster bill which among others, establishes a National Disaster Risk Management Committee which will providing leadership in the development, coordination and implementation of disaster risk management strategies and interventions and also be responsible for recommending to the President the declaration of a state of disaster. principally be responsible for
In his speech, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa congratulated members for fruitful deliberations.
He however called on them to make it their time-honoured responsibility to make sure the K3.78 trillion budget that the house has passed is used to benefit the people whom they represent.
“I wish to emphasize the fact that as the opposition, we will scale up a vigorous tracking process to ensure that the National Budget is fully implemented and that the approved resources do not go down the drain through corruption and blatant wastefulness. We shall make sure that every penny is accounted for,” he said.
On Cyclone Freddy, Nankhumwa asked government to roll out a cash transfer programme targeting survivors over the next eight months so that they should be able to stand on their own.
“A modest K100, 000 per family can go a long way to rebuilding their lives. Apart from helping victims to stand on their own two feet, the cash transfer programme would also help take some of the pressure away from the government in the medium term whilst a permanent relocation strategy is being worked out,” he said.
Apart from passing the budget and the bills, the house also saw President Lazarus Chakwera appearing before the House three times.