Parliament protests 9 percent budget cut
The Public Appointments Committee of Parliament (Pac) Friday protested a nine percent cut in the National Assembly vote in the 2023-2024 financial year, describing the budget as an impossible budget.
Pac Chairperson Joyce Chitsulo said the amount allocated to Parliament is only enough to keep the operations of budget running for only nine months.
In the 2022-2023 budget, the National Assembly allocation stood at K25 billion which was revised up to K28 billion with an increase of K3.1 billion on ORT which catered for the Budget Sitting of Parliament.
In the 2023-2024 budget, the National Assembly has been allocated K26 billion representing a 9 percent decrease.
Of the K26 billion allocation, K12.6 billion is for personal emoluments while Other Recurrent Transactions have been allocated K13.3 billion.
The budget has no allocation for the National Assembly development budget.
Pac has since disowned the proposed budget.
“It is evident that the reduction in allocation for this vote extremely compromises the mandate of Parliament as Committees, Public Inquiries, Hearings and Plenary cannot be conducted to enable Parliament to effectively deliver its mandate.
“It is sad that despite a number of efforts through engagements and negotiations with the Ministry of Finance by both the Parliamentary Service Commission and management of Parliament to increase the ceiling, the efforts did not yield anything,” Chitsulo said.
She said the National Assembly vote as it stands only covers two plenary meetings without providing for the Budget Meeting in March next year.
“In short, this budget is not a budget for Parliament. The Committee will not even begin to recommend anything. The budget simply has to be reworked.
“The cluster calls on the minister to stop the tendency of deliberately underproviding for the Budget of Parliament so that this House should look like it is selfish when it uses its power to force the minister to adequately provide for the requirements of Parliament. This tarnishes the image of Parliament,” Chitsulo said.
She reminded ministers that are also MPs that the National Assembly is their real home, adding that they might go to work in the Executive but may be back in the National Assembly later.
“So ensure that your real home is properly looked after,” Chitsulo said.
Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe could not immediately respond to the concerns.
He said he would respond to all concerns raised by various clusters at an appropriate time.
The lawmakers are expected to continue debating the budget on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before the budget goes into Committee of Supply where specific votes are passed on Thursday and Friday.
The 2022-2023 financial year ends on Friday and failure to pass the budget on the day may lead to a government shutdown.