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Editorial CommentOpinion & Analysis

The arrogance of Treasury is upon us again

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The decision by the activists to take to the streets next month and protest the K4 billion splurge on 86 legislators sounds interesting but truth be told, people have lost trust.

The last straw for many was when what was dubbed as the mother of all protests was cancelled last year. The demonstrations had the support of the Catholic bishops who rallied their flock to demostrate and all protestant churches under the banner of the Public Affairs Committee.

People from all walks of life were ready to go on the streets and force government to table the Electoral (amendment) reform Bills.

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Sadly, the protests failed.

Anyhow, this is not what we are concerned about today. That’s a subject for another day. What has caught our interest, however, is the arrogance of Treasury in both instances.

They managed to find K4 billion to pay MPs but cannot find a fraction of that money to fund the Public Accounts Committee’s fact-finding mission to Nairobi.

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The Secretary to Treasury, Ben Botolo, said he needs a budget line to motivate the expenditure and finance the trip. He is right but why say that today?

It is very hard to believe his explanation because not too long ago, his boss, Goodall Gondwe found a surplus of K4 billion and paid 86 legislators.

This was no issue at all.

We are surprised that it is difficult for Treasury to finance a trip that would otherwise get to the bottom of how public funds were abused at our mission in Kenya and expose more malfeasances as it were.

It is our considered view that Treasury is being shortsighted. What it is forgetting is that the prevalence of criminals in the economic sector can severely undermine the legitimacy and authority of the State because more often than not, the hardships so generated are always blamed on the State by the masses.

So it’s imperative that fighting economic felonies or corruption gets priority to help President Peter Mutharika walk the talk of fighting corruption and name and shame those perpetuating it.

We are even more concerned and more suspicious when the chairperson of the parliamentary committee claims that the Office of the President and Cabinet wants them to follow up on the fraud reports in Kenya but Treasury seems to be blocking that.

The committee’s Chairperson Alekeni Menyani said it was surprising that the same people who wanted the committee to help them in the probe are frustrating its plans to travel to Kenya.

He said the Office of the Secretary to Treasury is against releasing the funds while Chief Secretary to Government wants them to travel.

This demonstrates the ugly truth of how the economy and politics are inextricably linked to driving personal agendas of those in authority.

We hope Treasury will come to its senses and find money to send the parliamentarians. We still remember the good job they did when they went to Zambia to investigate Maizegate.

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