The Office of the Vice President will for the first time in many years enjoy a substantial increase in allocation as its budget has been increased from K173 million to K600 million.

The Vice President’s allocation has in the past years suffered reductions on argument that the then vice president was not working.

This increase prompted MP for Balaka South George Nnensa to speculate that some of the funding could be allocated to the office of the Second Vice President which reports indicate could be filled by the MCP leader John Tembo.

“This increase is substantial, but does it mean the position of second vice president will be filled?” Nnensa wondered.

In an interview later, Nnensa said he expressed surprise at such a large increment after considering that the Vice President, who is also Minister of Health, would not use funding from the Ministry of Health.

The Budget and Finance committee also noted with concern increases in the Vice President’s allocation, but asked that the Minister of Finance to increase allocations to the ministries of health and education as well.

“Considering the recent devaluation of the kwacha which has affected the cost of imported items, the committee urges the minister to consider increasing allocation to the health vote to cater for drugs importation and education vote for teaching and learning materials,” the committee chair Eunice Napolo said.

The committee also asked the minister to increase allocations for district councils which were previously reduced.

Other notable increases in allocation are in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, which has increased from K1.6 billion to K10 billion because of increases in the areas of social cash transfer scheme.

But the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development and Local Development Fund both suffered about 60 percent decreases in allocation.

The Budget and Finance committee wondered why the allocation to the National Audit Office has been reduced at a time the audit coverage is at 55 percent meaning that some government departments go unaudited due to lack of money.

The Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga is expected to respond to observations on his budget statement at the end of 14 days.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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