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Parliament passes 25 votes

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Joyce Chitsulo

Parliament Monday approved the budget for 25 out of the 57 votes, translating into K1.2 trillion out of the K2.8 trillion budgeted for the 2022-23 financial year.

The committee of supply, among others, rejected members of Parliament (MP)s’ proposal that State residences’ budget allocation should be hiked from K14.5 billion by an additional K8.1 billion.

The parliamentary cluster made up of members of Public Appointments and Commissions, Statutory Corporations and State Enterprises committees recommended the increase for capital expenditure.

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The cluster, through its chairperson Joyce Chitsulo, said State residences were in dilapidated state, with non-functioning cold rooms and lifts at both Sanjika and Kamuzu palaces, hence the need for quick maintenance.

However, Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe said the fiscal purse was limited to putting all the recommended additional funds to the vote.

“If we had fiscal purse, we could have added a lot of resources for maintenance of Sanjika but we have started with the fence and others will follow,” he said.

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Treasury has allocated K274.7 billion to the Ministry of Agriculture, with a K109 billion share channelled to the Affordable Inputs Programme.

Legislator for Chiradzulu South Joseph Mwanamvekha said the government needed to pronounce itself on the allocation against the number of beneficiaries considering prevailing prices of fertiliser on the global market.

However, Gwengwe said the plan had been scenario-based, with huge uncertainties over prices.

“It was difficult to come up with exact figures given the prevailing scenarios and also taking into account the Ukraine and Russia war. But Minister of agriculture [Lobin Lowe] is in Brazil scouting [for] manufacturers,” he said.

There was also a fierce debate as some lawmakers demanded a reduction to the K1.2 billion allocated to the Ministry of National Unity.

MPs, such as Sameer Suleman of Blantyre City South, wanted the budget to be reduced by K557 million, arguing that the money could be prudently utilised if it went towards assisting survivors of natural disasters.

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