STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka
PARLIAMENT has approved the 2016 budget and has adjourned sine die after a marathon sitting that lasted over 17 hours, mainly dwelling on the constitution debate.
The House began sitting on Thursday at 14:30 hours and went on deliberating up to yesterday around 09:40 hours.
A flurry of emotive questions sometimes, laced with jokes from those on the left side (opposition) of the Speaker delayed the passing of the new constitution.
After a flurry of votes on various clauses, the Constitution was finally passed by 75 percent votes, paving way to approves the K53 billion 2016 budget.
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda thanked members of Parliament for their valuable contributions during debate on the supply motion that was presented on October 9.
â€œI am grateful to all the members that debated this budget. We will incorporate your remarkable ideas,â€ Mr Chikwanda said.
The veteran Finance Minister assured the House that the loans government is contracting are manageable and are strictly for development projects.
â€œWe have an internal debt of K25 billion and external one of US $6.3 billion. Debt servicing is not a matter of worry. Debt contraction is bad when it is unplanned for,â€ Mr Chikwanda, fondly known as â€˜ABCâ€™, said.
He said government made a brave decision to get debt to underpin future developmental projects.
The minister said Government is aware that debt could be a trap if not well managed.
Mr Chikwanda also took time to eulogise President Lungu for the austerity measures he out-lined at a recent first ever press conference.
â€œAs PF Government, we mean business. And we have a great leader by the name of Edgar Chagwa Lungu. He is a likeable person. He is a good asset. As PF, we have a good product in President Lungu, whom we will easily market next year,â€ Mr Chikwanda said prompting PF MPs to shout, Hear! hear! hear!
And before adjourning, Parliament during this session considered 238 questions for oral answer and 11 Bills with the Constitution Bill being the most hotly debated one.
Some of the Bills considered included the Insurance Premium Levy Bill 2015, the Value Added Tax (Amendment) Bill 2015, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2015, the Property Transfer Tax (Amendment) Bill 2015 , the Lands (Amendment) Bill 2015 , the Gender Equity and Equality Bill 2015 and the Employment Bill 2015.
During this span, Parliament received three new members namely Teddy Kasonso under the UPND ticket in Solwezi-West, Anthony Kasandwe in Bangweulu under PF and George Mwamba in Lubansenshi also under PF.
The House further discussed the re-alignment of ministries.
President Lungu also addressed the House outlying his vision and plan for the nation.
President Lunguâ€™s address was characterised by grandeur.
STEVEN MVULA, Lusaka