LILONGWE (Tamanda Mwale, Malawi NewsNow) – As finance authorities are working on revising the 2015-2016 national budget the budget and finance committee of parliament has maintained its recommendation to have the Office of President and Cabinet (OPC) and State Residences funding cut.
The mid-year budget review meeting is slated for January next year, and the committe wants significant cuts to be made to votes linked to the presidency, among others.
The development follows the International Monetary Fund IMF recommendation that the 2015-2016 national budget should be revised downwards to reflect real revenue base for the country which is in line with downward revision of the Gross Domestic Product GDP from 6% to 3% owing to the impact of devastating floods and drought that hit the country.
Committee chairperson, Mr 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.
“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,” says 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.
Chiphiko branded the Peter Mutharika administration as an adamant government that does not listen to the voice of reason on matters of national importance as evidenced that when the current national budget was presented the committee advised government to revise figures downwards but refused.
“We were the first committee to question the budget figure ofK930 billion, what we said was as government failed to fund the budget of last year which was at K742 billion, how would they fund the budget of K930 billion.
“The answer that we got from minister of finance was that as government they can’t revise the budget downwards meaning they wouldn’t come up with a figure that could be down by K742 billion last year that was very impractical because mobilization of domestic resources to fund the budget is a very serious problem.
“It was a big problem last year with a budget of K742 billion Malawi Revenue Authority only managed to get about K590 billion so this time around I think MRA have budgeted around K565 billion against the budget of K930 billion where will the money come from, so this is what we have always asked why government comes up with huge budget figures when the revenue base is low”, said Chiphiko.