Parliament Passes K1.3 trillion Budget, CDF Increase From K 18mn To K 30 mn

Malawi’s parliament  passed the 2017/18  national budget worth K1.3 trillion  on Thursday after Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe was bulldozed to accept a 66 percent increase in the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from K18 million to K30 million.

Budget passes: Gondwe greets opposiiton leader Lazarous Chakwera (L) in parliament

This means that the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) has been allocated a K193.8 billion vote.

Before the passing of the budget, the members from both sides of the House joined forces in forcing the Gondwe to consider reviewing the DF which he only increased from K18 million to K20 million while members of the Parliament wanted an increase to be K30 million

The vote which was under NLGFC  was earlier deferred on Tuesday for the same reason came at the end before the budget  is passed and MPs continued to ask Gondwe to consider increasing the  CDF allocation and remove the 5 boreholes per constituency money from Local Councils and make it to be under the Member of Parliament as the  one in Control.

But Gondwe stood film refusing to increase the amount arguing if it wasn’t for his love of the CDF government could have just removed the whole allocation due to the noncompliance by some MPs

This didn’t go well with almost all members of the house who stood up to speak against Gondwe’s stand arguing it’s not them who abuse the funds but secretariat at the council challenging the minister  to do the  investigation

Phalombe South DPP parliamentarian Mary Livuza Mpanga asked Gondwe to send his team and do investigations  to find out  if indeed it’s MPs  abusing the CDF,  arguing it’s Councils where the abuses take place.

“MP’s are smarter than the secretariat [District Council],” she said.

Balaka Central-East MP Aufi Mpaweni ( United Democratic Front –UDF) said Gondwe could not appreciate the impact of CDF because the minister was not an MP.

He said the  fund is directly helping and bringing real developments to the people .

“This is the  only fund that helps us to develop our areas,” Mpaweni said amid handclapping and ululation from both sides of the House .

Zomba Changalume Peoples Party parliamentarian John Chikalimba added his voice to the demands .

“Let  me tell the honourable Minister that he must  stop generalising his stand by saying we, in this  side because it’s only him who is against the increase, all his colleagues from that side including ministers are with us here, so let him be saying I not using we,” said Chikalimba who brought the laughter and handclapping from both sides of the House including some cabinet ministers .

Dowa North East MP Richard Chimwendo Banda (Malawi Congress Party –MCP) said Gondwe was punishing all MPs when there were a few errant legislators who should be taken to task.

“You cannot punish all constituencies  because of two  or three  people. Yes, we should  all condone corruption but those abusing CDF should face the law,” said  Chimwendo-Banda who is also chairperson of the Social and Community Welfare Committee of Parliament.

The House had to adjourn for at least one hour after leader of opposition proposed  that Cabinet ministers and party leaders should  meet over the impasses which saved the situation

When the House reconvened, Gondwe said  the  leaders agreed that the CDF be increased to K23 million each constituency and that the K12 million water project fund be under the authority of the MP of an area to decide where to drill borehole or any other water project with the technical advice only from the government.

“As far as the figures are concerned, we agreed the CDF be increased to K23 million and K12 million for water projects per constituency,” said Gondwe.

“It was agreed that we will, as a House, strongly recommend that those tarnishing our image be prosecuted,” he added.

Leader of opposition Chakwera said  prosecution of abusers of CDF will address  the mismanagement.

“Those not following the regulations must be prosecuted in accordance with the law. We must insist that regulations are followed by everyone,” said Chakwera, who is also MCP president.

Chakwera  thanked both sides of the House  for their work, endurance as they had to knock off late to ensure they pass the budget  for the good off  the nation.

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