Comiche promises rigour
The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Thursday passed its budget for 2019, in which most of the money will go into the deputies’ own pockets.
In its initial proposal for the 2019 state budget, the government set the allocation for the Assembly at 728.2 million meticais (11.86 million US dollars, at current exchange rates). This is much less than the deputies wanted merely for their own salaries.
In negotiations with the government, the Assembly’s leadership claimed the parliament needed 1.484 billion meticais to cover its programme of activities for the year, and the government’s proposal left it 756 million meticais short.
Eventually, the government increased the line in the draft state budget for the Assembly to 1.346 billion meticais.
As always happens, the cost of the deputies’ salaries is not stated as such. There is a line for “Salaries and Remuneration” – but this is to pay the Assembly’s staff, and is set at 169.8 million meticais.
The deputies’ own salaries are placed coyly in the item described as “other personnel expenditure”. This is 767.6 million meticais, and is far and away the largest item in the budget.
The line for goods and services is 218.4 million meticais and that for current transfers is 149.9 million. There is also a capital budget, but it is only 40.4 million meticais.
A document from the Assembly’s governing board, its Standing Commission, claimed the money was needed “to strengthen the link between the deputies and their constituencies, the electorate and society at large”, “to improve the performance of the deputies, through maximising the use of Information and Communication Technologies”, and “to consolidate the institutional position of the Assembly, in the democratic constitutional framework”.
What the proposal overlooks is the fact that the Assembly is only a part time parliament. It holds just two ordinary sittings a year, usually lasting for less than three months. Thus the current sitting began on 18 October, and is scheduled to end shortly before Christmas.
The opposition parties in the Assembly protested against the draft budget, not because of its extravagance, but because they wanted even more money from the country’s taxpayers. As happens every year, the deputies from the former rebel movement Renamo, and from the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) complained that the budget is not enough for the Assembly to carry out its job of monitoring government activities.
Thus the budget was passed by the votes of the ruling Frelimo Party, which has an absolute majority in the Assembly, while Renamo and the MDM abstained.Source: AIM