Malawi’s finance minister has vowed to go ahead with public spending despite the political standoff between President Bingu Wa Mutharika and the opposition-controlled parliament. The stalemate has resulted in the budget being suspended indefinitely by parliament. But Godall Gondwe said the row should not prevent Malawians from benefiting from essential services. He called on government workers to report to work as usual, assuring them of their salaries by the end of the month.
Respicious Dzanjalimodzi is the shadow minister for finance. From the capital, Lilongwe, he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the government should ask parliament for the budget to be approved.
“I’ve heard that statement, but what I believe the minister for finance will do, and in fact the government would do is to ask that parliament meet so that we can discuss the financial resolution, in which the government would be asking for financing in order for them to continue to provide services. And the authority for that is to be granted by parliament in line with the constitutional provision, I think it’s section 178. So I believe that he has made that commitment that he will continue to provide the services, but what I think would be done is to ask that parliament formally authorize it,” Dzanjalimodzi said
He said parliament’s inability to approve the budget before the deadline is no news.
“First, this is not the first time that the budget has not been approved by 1st July. Over the last two, three years its been approved after 1st July. And what the government has been doing is to spend in line with the authority for them to spend what has been granted by parliament under section 178 of the constitution. The only difference this time is that there is particular deadlock. But it’s not the first time the budget has been approved late,” he pointed out.
Dzanjalimodzi said he is confident the budget would soon be approved.
“You know, what I can assure you is that the budget would be passed. And the fact that the parliament provided only one month funding the reason essentially is that is what parliament wanted, and particularly members of the opposition is that the budget should be approved within the month of July. But that has not happened because of the problems that are there,” Dzanjalimodzi noted.
He said mistakes that were made that prevented the budget from being passed on time.
“What we had expected was that from the time we had given government the authority to spend for one month, we should have started discussing the budget that time, and we should have finalized more or less by this time or beginning of August latest by this week. But that did not happen because of the deadlock that is there,” he said.
Dzanjalimodzi said the government should approach parliament with its request for the budget to be approved.
“What government ought to do is to come back to parliament, and ask for financing. And according to the constitution, we can provide financing for a total of four months. So what this means is that there is an additional three months still that can be authorized by parliament,” Dzanjalimodzi said.