Once again, deputies from Mozambique’s main opposition party, the former rebel movement Renamo have, as in previous years, complained that the government is spending too much on defence and security, making this one of their main reasons for opposing the 2012 state budget.
During Tuesday’s debate on the budget, Renamo deputies repeatedly protested at expenditure on the President’s Office, the Armed Forces (FADM), the Intelligence Service (SISE) and the Interior Ministry.
Thus Jose Manteigas claimed that this expenditure « is to the detriment of education, health and agriculture »
Finance Minister Manuel Chang pointed out that the allocations for the Presidency, the FADM, SISE and the Interior Ministry, when put together, only amount to about four per cent of projected public expenditure for 2012. This was nowhere near the sums the government planned to spend on education, health or agriculture.
Had Renamo paid attention to the budget, it would have seen that the allocation for education accounts for 18.2 per cent of total expenditure, for health and HIV/AIDS programmes, 7.9 per cent, for agriculture and rural development 11.1 per cent, and for roads 9.5 per cent.
Former Prime Minister Luisa Diogo, now a parliamentary deputy for the ruling Frelimo Party, said that the reasons given by Renamo for rejecting the budget were so feeble that « they don’t convince our people, they don’t convince us, the majority group, and they don’t even convince themselves ».
They might vote against the budget, Diogo said, but « deep in their hearts, they are hoping that the Frelimo parliamentary group will exercise its leadership role in the destiny of Mozambicans ».
« We would like to calm these deputies, and all of our people, assuring them that Frelimo will once again comply with its patriotic duty of leading the Mozambican people », she added.
Diogo pointed out that the 2012 budget us a further step in reducing Mozambique’s dependence on foreign aid. In 2008, she said, only 44 per cent of the Mozambican budget was financed with Mozambican money, and 56 per cent came from foreign grants and loans,
But this year « we have financed 58 per cent of our expenditure », while the 2012 budget envisages raising this figure to 66 per cent. By 2014, 69 of the budget should be financed by Mozambique’s own resources.
« As can be seen, we are going from a foreign dependency of 56 per cent in 2008 to one of 31 per cent in 2014 », Diogo said. Mozambique’s economic growth had permitted the government « to increase internal revenue in order to finance the state budget ».
Some Renamo speeches bore no relation at all to the budget. One even claimed, without bothering to offer any evidence, that « the budget is to fill the pockets of the comrades and to finance party events ».
Despite the large sums allocated to education, health and roads, she predicted that « the hospitals will be without good medicines, the roads will remain potholed, and children will continue to study in the open air ».
Frelimo deputy Jose Chichava accused Renamo of deliberately spreading disinformation. The Renamo members had not even read the budget, he said, but had just come to the Assembly « with pages and pages of lies and invective »