Thursday, March 08, 2007

Shakafuswa annoys MPs

Shakafuswa annoys MPs
By Nomusa Michelo
Thursday March 08, 2007 [02:00]

FINANCE deputy minister Jonas Shakafuswa on Tuesday annoyed members of parliament when he said they should debate from a position of knowledge instead of barking. Contributing to policy debate on the allocation for the office of the Auditor General, after Kabwata member of parliament Given Lubinda, Shakafuswa said people should debate from a position of knowledge and not just bark.

At that point deputy chairman for committees of the whole House Mkhondo Lungu asked Shakafuswa to withdraw the word barking, amidst demands by members of parliament for him to apologise. Shakafuswa said he withdrew the word simply because there was a difference of understanding. And Shakafuswa said the officers who touched public funds would be retired from the public service. He said government would give support to the office of the Auditor General and would ensure that all financial reporting in all ministries was up to date.

Lungu had a tough time to control members of parliament during the debate as they kept making noise and raising points of order. Giving guidance earlier to the members of parliament on how to proceed with debate, Lungu last week said during policy debates, it was observed that members of parliament were drifting into general debate, which tended to go outside the specific heads of expenditure being debated. "Honourable members as you are all aware the committee of supply is now debating the votes of specific ministries, departments or institutions and is dealing with individual items of those ministries, departments or institutions," he said. "In many cases this led to repetition of what was already said during the general debate on the budget motion."

Lungu advised the members to stick to the specified minister, department or institutions. "I appeal to the honourable members to be more focused in their debates and avoid repeating what they said during the general debate on the budget motion," he said. Lungu also advised the members of parliament to be calm in their debate and avoid raising emotions, which tended to slow down the pace of passing the budget. "The debates should be dignified and should avoid confrontation which degenerates the House and compromises its honour and dignity, thereby inciting unjustified negative comments from the press and the public," said Lungu.

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