By Mbono Mdluli | 2018-03-06
MEMBERS of Parliament have again rejected the E21.6 billion budget, which was tabled by Minister of Finance Martin Dlamini.
This follows a similar stance the MPs took to throw out the budget last year, claiming they had not been consulted by Cabinet.
Yesterday, the lawmakers again threw out the budget, which was tabled last week Thursday, saying it does meet the needs of the people especially in the rural areas.
They said, for instance, Micro Projects and Regional Development Fund (RDF) were two funds that were not adequately allocated for in the budget, yet the two were meant to develop areas that were occupied by the voters in all the constituencies in the country.
Micro Projects, in the 2018/2019 budget, was allocated an amount of E100 million, as opposed to last year, where E180 million had been allocated for it.
The MPs suggested that at least E250 million should be allocated to Micro Projects so that projects in remote areas should be implemented to develop lives of the ordinary Swazis. Concerning RDF, the lawmakers suggested E120 million, but E88 million was allocated. They also complained about the E88 million allocated to RDF, saying it was meagre, especially because Tinkhundla had been increased from 55 to 59.
The legislators agreed that the minister of finance should go back and review the budget together with the House of Assembly Finance Sessional Committee and the House of Assembly Finance Portfolio Committee. The reviewed budget is expected to be tabled by the minister tomorrow in the House of Assembly.
Nkhaba MP Menzi Dlamini moved that the budget should not be passed because it proved to be very controversial.
The Nkhaba legislator raised the motion after three MPs (Esther Dlamini of Mbabane East, Mabulala Maseko of Maphalaleni, and Frans Dlamini of Nhlambeni) had already debated.
He said some of the things they advised the finance minister to put aside for now were back in the budget.
“I am one of the MPs who are in the finance committee. I must say that some of the things that we said should be put aside are now here, like the 15 per cent tax on electricity,” MP Menzi said.
He further stated that the proposed 15 per cent tax was unfair to the ordinary Swazi who earned little money. He said there were people who earned E800 per month.
They would be deprived of an opportunity to purchase electricity. MP Menzi could not understand why the tax was introduced because an electricity hike could be effected in April this year. That was what influenced him to reach the decision of moving that the budget be reviewed by the finance ministry, together with the two finance committees.
The Nkhaba MP was seconded by Manzini North MP Jan Sithole. However, House of Assembly Speaker Themba Msibi overruled that and allowed the debate to continue. Two MPs (Joseph Souza of Lugongolweni and Apton Ndlovu of Timphisini) debated, before Shiselweni II MP Mthokozisi Kunene moved that the debate be adjourned. Some MPs opposed him, but at the end, most MPs were of the view that the debate should be adjourned to allow for the budget to be reviewed.
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