Maputo — The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday passed the second and final reading of the amended budget for 2020 submitted by the government.
As on the first reading, the budget passed with the votes of the majority Frelimo Party, while the two opposition parties, Renamo and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM), voted against.
The amended budget increases expenditure by 8.3 per cent, rising from 345.4 billion to 374.1 billion meticais (from 4.73 to 5.12 billion US dollars, at current exchange rates).
The government argued that the extra money is needed for the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, for humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes by terrorism, mostly in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and to "strengthen the operational capacity of the defence and security forces", fighting against islamist terrorism in Cabo Delgado, and against the armed attacks by the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta" in the central provinces of Manica and Sofala.
The planned increase in expenditure is only possible because donors have pledged additional money for the response to Covid-19. As of September, Mozambique's partners had disbursed 452.4 million dollars, and that was enough for the government to draw up its amended budget.
Speaking at Wednesday's Assembly session Frelimo deputy Sabado Chombe said "no-one foresaw the devastating effects on the economy and on social life, caused by the coronavirus, by the terrorists in Cabo Delgado, and by the Renamo armed men in Manica and Sofala".
Frelimo was voting in favour of the amended budget, he said, "because it will allow the government to provide more services and to minimise the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic".
Renamo objected that the government had provided no report on what it had done with the funds approved in the initial budget, passed in April. "First show us how you spent public money, what you did, how and where, and then yes, there will be room for you to ask the Assembly for more to finish the work", declared Renamo spokesperson Arnaldo Chalaua.
MDM deputy Fernando Bismarque said the distribution of resources in the amended budget was "irrational". He protested that "with this budget, the government will continue to inject money into loss-making companies, instead of thinking about a less burdensome strategy".