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Parliament meets amid borrowing fears

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Betchani Tcheleni

Business Committee of Parliament (BCP) members Wednesday agreed to go ahead with the mid-year budget review meeting set for Monday next week, but an economist has implored legislators to censure the Executive on borrowing.

Parliament’s Chief Public Relations Officer Ian Mwenye said the august House would meet for five weeks from February 22 through to March 26.

He said BCP members have committed to ensuring that Covid preventive measures are adhered to during the course of the meeting. One of the measures is the simultaneous holding of physical and virtual meetings.

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“We are going to use a ratio but they [legislators] will be alternating based on the selection within political parties represented in the Chamber. Parties will be selecting who to be in the Chamber depending on the matters before them,” he said

Meanwhile, Polytechnic-based economic expert Betchani Tcheleni has expressed worry with the rate of borrowing.

“In general, the performance of the economy the past months has been decimal and has caused a lot of stress to many people. Even the revenue collector [Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA)] has faced problems that have caused the government [Executive] to go and borrow money, which is even worrisome. We are worried because we do not even know where we will get the money to repay the money.

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“Some of the things that have to be looked into seriously are borrowing and how resources will be rearranged. We have to prioritise among priorities because some of the priorities may not be priorities now because the economy is not where it was supposed to be,” he said

The meeting is happening at a time MRA has been missing its collection targets. For instance, revenue collections for the period between July and September 2020 amounted to K277.2 billion against a set target of K304.1 billion.

This means that revenue collected was 9 percent shy of the target.

In addition, non-tax collections were K18.3 billion against a target of K22.8 billion.

Further, the government spent a total of K430.9 billion on development initiatives, out of which K52.7 billion was spent on externally financed projects.

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