by Hon Juliana Lunguzi, MP Dedza East
Thank you very much Madam First Deputy Speaker for allowing me to have the opportunity to move the Motion standing in my name on today’s order.
Honourable First Deputy Speaker, the motion seeks to move this honourable house that considering that contrary to Section 3 of the Export- Import Bank of India (Loan) Authorization Act, 2010 (Act No.2 of 2011), the Executive Branch of Government sold tractors obtained under this loan, this House should resolve that:
(a) The full list of tractors sold, and buyers (including owners of any companies, if any) plus funds collected per tractor from each buyer so far, be availed to this House;
(b) Information be made available to the House on the arrangements put in place for the funds recovered from the sale;
(c) The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee of Parliament physically takes an inventory of all tractors bought, using Chasis numbers;
(d) The House be furnished with minutes where the decision was made to sell the tractors; and
(e) The Minister of Agriculture assures this House that the original intent and purpose of the tractors which was to assist smallholder farmers will be achieved within the current program as adjusted, or through other means.
2.0. THE CURRENT SITUATION
Honourable First Deputy Speaker, this House through an Act of Parliament authorised the Government to borrow money, part of which was used to procure 177 tractors in 2011. These were intended to be given to small holder farmers.
Contrary to the original intention that was presented in this House, the Government of Malawi has sold the tractors. The Executive Branch of Government has not accounted on how the sale was done, nor the proceeds and how they were or have been applied.
3.0. WHAT THE SITUATION SHOULD HAVE BEEN
Honourable First Deputy Speaker, section 12 (1) (c) of the Constitution of Republic of Malawi 1994 is to the effect that all power exercised by the State is conditional upon the sustained trust of the people of Malawi and can only be maintained through an open, accountable and transparent government and informed democratic choice. This includes the power of the State to borrow money, and it must be exercised whilst bearing in mind the fundamental principles of our supreme law of the land.
Section 180 of the Constitution states that Government may borrow money as authorized under an Act of Parliament, and that particular Act of Parliament is the Public Finance Management Act.
Honourable First Deputy Speaker, the long title to the Public Finance Management Act provides that it is “an Act to foster and enhance effective and responsible economic and financial management by Government, including adherence to policy objectives; to provide accompanying accountability arrangements together with compliance with those arrangements; to require the Government to produce statements of proposed budget policy, confirmation of adherence to fiscal discipline, economic and fiscal statements, including economic and fiscal forecasts and updates, and performance information, including comprehensive financial statements; and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.”
Section 54 of the Public Finance Management Act states that the Government may only borrow in accordance with that Act and under any other Act authorizing it to do so. The conditions under which this may be done are provided under section 56 of the Act. Under subsection 3, it states that all money received by government under the loan agreement shall be paid into an account within the Consolidated Fund, and the proceeds shall only be expended for the purposes for which it was borrowed.
However, the tractors that were bought by Government under the loan agreement in question , which were meant to be given to smallholder farmers have been sold by the Government and never benefited the smallholder farmers. By implication, it means that only the elites and the rich who managed to buy the tractors have instead benefited. This is contrary to the highlighted sections above and the whole objective of the Public Finance Management Act.
What the situation should have been is that the Government should have been transparent and accountable in the way it handled the issue of tractors. The tractors should have been given to the smallholder farmers, whether in groups of cooperatives, if they failed to buy individually. This, in turn, will have made them move from subsistence to commercial farming and harvest more yields resulting into a food secured nation.
4.0. PROPOSED SOLUTION
Honourable First Deputy Speaker, Standing Order 164 (1) (e) created the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee whose function is to investigate, inquire and report on all matters relating to the mandate, administration and estimates of their respective assigned ministries, statutory corporations, and public bodies funded by the treasury.
The present scenario calls for the Committee to act on the matter raised by this motion so that there is transparency and accountability by the Government. This will ensure that the interest of the smallholder farmer is served, thus also ensuring that the original intended purpose for which the loan was obtained is fulfilled.
Honourable First Deputy Speaker Madam, I beg to move.
Editor's Note: The motion was adopted by the House on November 24, 2016