By Rachel Gonani MANA

Parliament on Thursday morning passed two bills authorising government to obtain grants as it seeks to prioritise rebuilding people’s livelihoods after being affected by Cyclone Freddy.

One is an authorization bill for a grant of K150 billion from World Bank through the International Development Association (IDA) towards Water and Sanitation projects while the other is a Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods grant pegged at K115 billion Kwacha from the same source.

Presenting the bills in Parliament Minister of Finance, Sosten Gwengwe said parliament’s undivided focus on the bills indicates that government prioritizes lives of people.

Sosten Gwengwe min of finance

“ We had to fast-track these bills to parliament because the cyclone has caused untold devastation and we know that as we rebuild, water and sanitation will become essential than ever before and these resources will help Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to start restoring facilities to give people the much needed water,” Gwengwe said.

Under the Water and Sanitation project, government through BWB as the implementing organ, seeks to among other things upgrade priority water supply transmission pipelines, upgrade the distribution network and pressure management systems to reduce water losses, rehabilitate and upgrade Mudi Dam Water Intake and Treatment while implementing priority dam safety measures.

It will also assist in expanding water distribution through construction of water kiosks in Blantyre and surrounding areas, construct a new, solid, waste recycling plant and landfill on the outskirts of Chigumula and enhance the operational and financial efficiency of the BWB.

Members of Parliament from both government and opposition sides spoke in favour of the bill, passing it without any amendments at the committee stage.

Later on, seeking authorization for the Social Support for Resilient Livelihoods Project which received equally solid support from both sides of the House, Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe told parliament that the project will cushion people who have suffered effects of cyclone Freddy.

“ We have also fast-tracked this bill so that we rebuild people’s livelihoods either through social cash transfer or/and public works. This will give people a starting point to rise from the catastrophe and we are proposing additional financing from IDA and multi-donor trust funds to be given to Malawi as a grant,” Gwengwe said.

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