Members of Parliament (MPs) approved the 2018/19 fiscal plan after forcing the government to increase their salaries and allowances and increase development funding.
With the usual huge allocations to the key sectors of education, health and agriculture, the 2018/2019 budget also has, among others, allocations for recruitment of more civil servants, increment of civil servants salaries and chiefs honoraria, youth skills and entrepreneurship program and the infamous subsidies of farm input and descent and affordable housing.
Earlier, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and many other economic commentators tore apart the budget, describing it as a wishful list aimed at hoodwinking the unsuspecting Malawians ahead of the 2019 tripartite elections.
Tension had built up in the Committee of Supply stage ahead of the eventual passing of the budget as parliamentarians sought Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe’s assurance of inclusion of their improved salaries and other benefits in the current budget.
The Committee of Supply was many times unnecessarily suspended over these matters in the week gone by, making the public fear that the legistrators were abdicating their constitutional duty.
Just before passing the budget on Friday, the Members of Parliament (MPs) unanimously pressured First Deputy Speaker Mcheka Chilenje to suspend the deliberations again, eventually forcing Gondwe and Leader of the House Kondwani Nankhumwa to bow down to their demands.
Nankhumwa told Nyasa Times after the budget had passed that all the issues and grievances the MPs had with government, had been amicably resolved.
“The queries the MPs had tabled were resolved, including the outcry for salary and allowance increases,” said Nankhumwa.
When Mcheka-Chilenje announced the passing of the budget, many MPs erupted into hand-clapping, with others giving a standing ovation.
Leader of Opposition Dr Lazarus Chakwera said he was happy that the budget had finally passed to serve the people of Malawi.
The key Appropriation Bill will be tabled on Monday, according to Nankhumwa several other issues of national interest will be tackled before the House rises.