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Suspend Malata subsidy—Parliament

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The Budge t and Finance Committee of Parliament has disclosed that it expects that during the mid-year budget review meeting slated for January next year, significant cuts will be made to votes linked to the presidency, among others.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently declared its US$150 million programme with Malawi off-track following government’s failure to meet agreed targets and subsequently proposed that the national budget that is currently being implemented should be revised.

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, said government will come up with a reduced budget, which will be in tandem with the available resources, during the mid-year budget review.

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And while the Finance Minister could not be drawn to disclose which expenditure lines will be reduced, the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament has its proposal handy with the presidency told to lead by example.

In an interview yesterday, the committee’s chairperson, Rhino Chiphiko, said ‘non-essential’ areas have to bear the brunt of government’s imprudent expenditure.

“Now that it is clear that the budget will be reduced, we expect that allocations to the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), State Residencies and the Vice- President’s office will be revised downwards.

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“The Unforeseen Expenditures allocation will also have to be revised because there is some sort of duplication in the vote and others, including the one to do with disasters which is in the office of the Vice-President,” said Chiphiko.

He further proposed that allocations for the Shire- Zambezi Waterway Project and the Decent and Affordable Housing Subsidy Programme (Dahsp) should be suspended.

“For instance, the Shire- Zambezi Waterway Project is still facing problems since Mozambique did not give us the go-ahead. So, for now, we can remove the allocation and work on how to reduce our fiscal plan,” said Chiphiko.

The lawmaker, however, said it would be illogical to reduce allocations to the health, education and agriculture sectors which he said are already underfunded.

The K930 billion 2015/16 national budget which was passed in June this year allocates K5.4 billion to State Residencies, K6.6 billion to OPC, K1.3 billion to the office of the vice-president and K1.8 billion for unforeseen expenditure while K7 billion is for Dahsp.

Meanwhile, Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya yesterday said they are doing their own analysis to determine which sectors in the national budget can be reduced.

He, however, said the Budget and Finance Committee is free to present its suggestions in writing to the Ministry of Finance so that government can look at them and map the way forward.

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