Members of Parliament (MPs) continue to press the government to implement measures aimed at addressing their welfare.
On Tuesday, vote by vote scrutiny of the budget delayed as the MPs wanted the government to address their concerns on Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and Water Fund.
Although it was reported in the august House that the issue was resolved, which led to the legislators passing 14 votes, on Wednesday no progress was made.
The House adjourned three times when MPs and the government failed to reach an agreement on the issues.
The Daily Times gathered that the MPs were also pressing for a 10 percent salary increment and that, after five years, they should fully own vehicles they buy duty-free.
On CDF, it is understood that the government is yet to pay K1.5 million to each constituency while the MPs want the money disbursed immediately.
On Water Fund, some MPs have confided in The Daily Times that the government has only released K6 million out of the K 12 million approved in the 2017/18 budget.
The Daily Times has also established that the legislators agreed not to talk to any media house regarding any of the issues.
Asked about the legislators’ demands, Gondwe said the issue of duty, for example, requires change of the law, a task that should be given ample time.
“They are saying no; we would like to be exempted from paying duty. That is what it is all about. They can sell that car to someone who is not a duty-free beneficiary. They must pay duty like anybody else.
“The other people can be paying taxes but, as far as the MPs are concerned, they should not be paying taxes and they want me to sign that. I am saying no; I cannot agree to that. This is a matter that requires that the law should be changed,” he said.
Commenting on the CDF issue, against the background that MPs want it remain in the recurrent budget and not the development budget, Goodall said such issues can be considered in the next fiscal year.
“The Development Fund was, to us, a development project— it contributes to the development of the country and we want [it] to be classified as such and they said no; we should continue treating it as a consumption project. To me, that is not an important thing and, so, I said ‘fine, we will do that’,” he said.
On salary increment, Gondwe said there is need for further discussions.
“The third thing is that they want their salaries increased, not just their basic salary but all their entitlements should be increased by 10 percent and I said I will discuss it with the President [Peter Mutharika]. I cannot say yes to [to the proposal raised by] them but I have calculated the figures and those are the issues we were querying,” he said.
When Times Television and Times Radio aired the story regarding Gondwe’s remarks, some MPs queried the reporter, demanding to know if Gondwe mentioned anything to do with the issue of duty.
Some MPs said they agreed that it should not be brought to the attention of the public.
“Wanena zimenezo Gondwe’yo? Timukhaulitsa [Has Gondwe really said that? We will punish him],” one of the MPs said.
And after the House reconvened Thursday, Leader of the House, Kondwani Nankhumwa, told the MPs that all outstanding issues had been resolved.
But Rumphi East MP, Kamlepo Kalua, asked Gondwe to retract remarks made in the media about taxes.
“We want the minister to retract what he said in the media; that we want to dodge taxes,” Kalua said.
Gondwe told the House that he had retracted the statement.
Reports indicate that, currently, ordinary MPs are entitled to two duty-free vehicles while Cabinet ministers are entitled to three duty-free vehicles.