Madagascar’s civil society reacts after the adoption, late in the evening of Friday, November 27, of the 2021 finance bill by the deputies. This text, which will regulate the nation’s public spending for the coming year, was validated by the lower house, mostly pro-regime, after only three hours of debate in plenary and an amendment. Members of the opposition TIM party boycotted the vote. The ROHY platform, which brings together organizations in all regions of the Big Island, held a press conference on Saturday morning. She denounces “a budget voted in haste and inconsistent with the needs and challenges of the population. ”
« Incomprehensible priorities in a post-Covid-19 situation »: This is how civil society began its analysis of finance bill. Hony Radert is the general secretary of the Collectif des Citoyens et des Organizations Citoyennes, a member of the ROHY movement. She explains :
« We see an excessive increase in the budget of the Ministry of Youth and Sports. 128 billion Ariary (editor’s note: 28 million euros) are devoted to internal investments for sport. This is almost 90% of the National Education investment budget. It is more than 50% of the Health budget for internal investments. There is also a strong increase in the budget for external investments for the Post Office. Next to that, we see Health, which is lagging behind. The health budget, in real terms, is declining. There was no granting of new budgetary items, although we know that there are not enough doctors at the level of basic health centers, that there are not enough staff at hospital level, while health emergency is still there. »
In its analysis, civil society notes that 11% of the budget, or 1,125 billion ariary (250 million euros), remains without a specific destination. ” The government reduced the share of provisions for investments but introduced a new category of public investment project called “emergence projects”, which are admittedly registered at the level of the ministries, but without use defined in the budget bill. . This maintains the budget’s lack of credibility and raises questions about the use of public money », Details Hony Radert.
The ROHY movement also questions the growth rate of 4.5% forecast by the government for 2021, while it is negative this year, at -3.8%. ” This is very optimistic, if not impossible given the national and global context and the lack of support that the state provides, from our perspective, to the private sector. There are no concrete fiscal measures and incentives to support this sector and help it to recover the economy. », Continues Hony Radert. The IMF forecasts a growth rate of 3% for the country.
The civil society platform still welcomes several measures of the text: among others, the increase in the operating budget of municipalities and regional health departments and the partial coverage of parental charges for education.
Opposition MPs boycott the vote
A bill also criticized by the deputies of the opposition party TIM, who denounced ” a masquerade In view, in particular, of the short time granted to examine the text. The latter left the room before the vote. ” The filing and reading deadlines were not respected. There was also no budget conference at regional level. There was a kind of forcing on the part of the government for the adoption. The parliamentarians of the majority were convened and received by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. We do not know what happened, but when they returned to Parliament, we immediately moved towards the adoption of the finance bill. Normally, it is the Parliament which must challenge the government, but here, the opposite has happened. », Indicates Mamy Rabenirina, deputy of this party.
The TIM deputies also oppose the substance of the text. ” This finance bill is far from realistic », Estimates Mamy Rabenirina. « Our parliamentary group and other members of the majority were not convinced by the government’s text. We expected to find an exceptional or special budget, given the crisis caused by Covid-19. We have heard for months of revival for the private sector and even of a Marshall Plan, but after reading we did not find any of this », Continues the parliamentarian.
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Presidential Majority MP Keron Idealson points out that “ there is a logic to be considered. I too would like to subscribe to measures favorable to the private sector, but the State must also find the money to operate and deal with the after-effects of the crisis that we have just experienced. If we take favorable measures for the entire private sector, it is a risk for the state coffers to be in the negative ».
Regarding the speed with which the text was adopted by the members of the lower house, the deputy of the IRD, the party of the presidential majority, said that ” all questions were debated in committee work and changes could be made ».
The text must now be considered by senators before a vote scheduled for December 10. Civil society will be received by members of the upper house next week.