K5.9tn budget gets the nod

K5.9tn budget gets the nod

Parliament yesterday gave a seal of approval to the K5.998 trillion 2024/25 National Budget, effectively allowing Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Simplex Chithyola Banda to spend from April 1 this year.

In probably one of the shortest Committee of Supply proceeding that lasted about one and a half days, members of Parliament (MP) had to forgo a health break and lunch to handle 44 votes that remained after they passed 15 on Monday.

Parliamentarians during deliberations in this file photo

During the Committee of Supply, legislators scrutinise allocations to government ministries, departments and agencies vote by vote.

The budget passed without much resistance from both the opposition and government sides of the House. But some MPs expressed concern over some votes deemed not adequately funded including the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) allocated K160 billion and the unforeseen circumstances vote maintained at K5 billion.

The 2024/25 National Budget is built on the assumption that the economy will grow by 3.6 percent and inflation rate will moderate to 23.4 percent from the current 35 percent with domestic revenue projected at K4.55 trillion.

In her input, Chikwawa West MP Susan Dossi (UTM Party) said the country has been experiencing natural disasters that need more resources to support the people affected said there should be an increase in resources for the budget line.

Dossi: Disaster recovery needs more resources

She also expressed concerns on allocations for roads and boreholes.

Said Dossi: “Will the K5 billion be enough to ensure that it caters for the unforeseen issues that we have in our constituencies.

“I am looking at the dry spell that we have. I am looking at the floods in Nkhotakota and Karonga and even the issues of hunger.”

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Leader in Parliament Mary Navicha lamented that some AIP beneficiaries failed to redeem fertiliser in the 2022/23 and 2023/24 fiscal years.

Making her comment before the Ministry of Agriculture vote was passed, the Thyolo Thava legislator wondered whether beneficiaries this year will be able to redeem the farm inputs.

Navicha said there was need for the ministry to be provided adequate resources to ensure that government is able to procure enough fertiliser.

She said: “It is our wish that this ministry gets substantial amounts, especially taking into account the importance of AIP. We are concerned if at all the intended beneficiaries will receive the farm inputs.”

In his response after the budget passed, Chithyola Banda conceded that the K5 billion allocation to the unforeseen circumstances vote was lower considering the frequency of natural disasters in the country.

However, he said the K5 billion was an indicative amount and might be revised depending on the degree of the disasters.

“The vote is also complemented by a number of votes that are also addressing issues of disasters,” said the minister.

Chithyola Banda also said votes that MPs feel have not been adequately allocated resources might have the resources revised during the Mid-Year Budget

On AIP, he assured that government has provided the needed resources to ensure a successful AIP this year.

On how government intends to address the issue of hunger which requires K357 billion when there is just K5 billion in the unforeseen vote, Chithyola Banda said the unforeseen vote allocation is subject to revision depending on the magnitude of disasters.

President Lazarus Chakwera on March 23 this year declared a State of Disaster in 23 of the country’s 28 districts due to a combination of prolonged dry spells and erratic rains, largely induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon, that has reduced potential national harvest by about 44 percent.

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The post K5.9tn budget gets the nod appeared first on The Nation Online.