Chairperson of Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament Sosten Gwengwe has casted doubt on the 2019-2020 budgets’ ability to create jobs despite being touted as such; saying the country’s youths need sustainable employment not internships.
With the current wage bill standing at K478 billion, he wondered if government can recruit more noting that with no clear path to full time job opportunities, it is too temporal to leave an impact on the youth population.
Citing companies like Castel, Chibuku and Nampak which have all downsized, he bemoaned the situation as sad challenging the authorities to do better.
With G4S being the second largest employer from government with 10, 000 staff on its payroll, he called on the need to put in place incentives for companies to recruit more to address youth unemployment.
“If the tax regime is not competitive for private sector, jobs will continue to be exported to neighbouring countries and beyond as our youth languish in abject poverty.
“Madam Speaker, a budget that wants to create jobs must not allow companies to shrink or close. It must not allow companies to retrench. It must encourage companies to recruit,” noted Gwengwe.
The Budget chairperson reminded the house on the need to implement a deliberate policy of awarding 40 percent of procurement especially for generic goods and services to indigenous businesspersons to transform their lives.
He expressed reservations over the serious challenges in utilising donor money.
On development funding from donor partners; out of K333 billion only K90 billion has been utilised todate.
In the Ministry of Health donors committed K21billion to the Ministry while government committed only K3.7bn, which he described as a red flag to the health service delivery.
He further faulted the Malawi Police service increment from K54 billion to K75 billion while the Malawi Electoral Commission which is expected to hold fresh polls on May 19 is K3 billion short and demanded an explanation.
The Budget Chairperson lamented over official’s obsession to collect more personal allowances at the expense of public service delivery and stressed on the need for a serious soul searching.
“If we cannot invest in improving public sector service delivery, all these billions in donor funds will continue reverting back to source for lack of absorption capacity and no one will benefit from this. When a government is efficient, it is the public that benefits the most.
“Fixing this country must start with serious public sector reforms. Service delivery in civil service is the engine to the economic resuscitation that this country urgently needs,” said Gwengwe.
Nsanje South North Ester Mcheka-Chilenje stated that the budget will leverage on the macroeconomic stability which has been characterized by low interests’ rates.
She noted that since the tripartite polls, the economy is still on course despite post-election demonstrations.
The former first deputy speaker called on the legislators to help the President in developing the country for the citizen’s well-being.
Interim Leader of the opposition Robin Lowe demanded to know why the Ministry of Finance has resorted not to do Committee of Supply for the mid-term budget.
In response, Responsible Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha justified the move arguing that the Ministry will shortly be undertaking budget consultations for the 2020- 2021 budget which means that Parliament will approve budget 3 times.
He clarified that government does not have anything to hide adding that the requirement is not mandatory.
The explanation did not amuse Dowa East Richard Chimwendo-Banda who indicated that a budget review sitting is funded by the taxpayers and in the spirit of transparency he underscore the need to look at each and every vote.
“We’re not here to shoot the budget; it’s our role and responsibility to scrutinize the budget through Committee of Supply” reasoned Banda.
Nankhumwa directed lawmakers to proceed with debate as he made an undertaking to discuss the issue further with Leader of the Opposition.
Legal Affairs Committee Vice Chairperson Ezekiel Ching’oma presented a report on the amendment of road traffic regulations for the house to deliberate on before adoption.
Legislators are expected to further scrutinize the proposed fines and penalties which among others include threatening or use of violence to an officer and driving without professional licence offences attracting a fine of K100, 000.