Mozambique: Assembly Debates General State Account

Opinion in the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, divided along utterly predictable lines on Wednesday, when the Assembly began debating the General State Account (CGE) for 2014.

The CGE is the government document which presents the financial and budgetary execution of the financial year in question. It presents reams of information on revenue collected, public expenditure, the balance of payments, foreign grants and loans, and the various state financial operations.

The CGE is drawn up immediately after the end of the financial year, and is then submitted to the Administrative Tribunal, the body that supervises the legality of public expenditure. The CGE and the Tribunal’s opinion are then both submitted to the Assembly.

Year after year, the debate on the Assembly floor has been much the same. The ruling Frelimo Party argues that, despite some defects and despite criticisms by the Tribunal, the CGE faithfully reflects the financial situation of the year in question and should be approved. The opposition parties, on the other hand, claim that the CGE ignores recommendations made the previous year, that the Tribunal’s criticisms are very serious, that the accounts cannot be trusted, and should therefore be rejected.

This year was no different from any of the previous years. The Frelimo group on the Assembly’s Plan and Budget Commission said the CGE 2014 was an improvement on earlier accounts, and that its defects “are part of a normal process of growth, and of the construction of the democratic rule of law”.

The Frelimo group on the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Commission was more glowing in its approval, declaring that “the clarity, precision and simplicity in the drafting of the CGE shows a growth of transparency in financial governance, which consolidates good governance and the rule of law”.

But the rebel movement Renamo accused the government of violating parts of the law on state financial management. Expenditure, it claimed, had been switched from one budget line to another, without the written authorization of the Finance Minister.

Problems criticised in the past continued, such as poorly organized files in various state department which make it difficult to consult documents on specific items of revenue or expenditure. Renamo also claimed that capital expenditure that had not been envisaged in the budget at all, was undertaken.

The Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) protested that some revenue had not been sent to the Single Treasury Account, and there were inconsistencies in the data about the financial capacity of public companies, and companies in which the state owned holdings. The MDM also noted the lack of explanation for the failure of companies, some of them owned by senior Frelimo figures, to repay Treasury loans they had been granted in 2002.

In the ensuing debate, Frelimo deputy Moreira Vasco argued that the government’s efforts in drawing up the CGE should be recognized, and dismissed any problems with the document as “certain imperfections”.

He poured scorn on opposition criticisms, particularly those from Renamo which he described as “enemies of the people”. Through the armed attacks by its illicit militia, he added, Renamo “will not allow the people to work in peace”.

He found the Renamo attitude hypocritical. “They make tax collection difficult”, he said, “but are the first to demand money here (in the Assembly). Where do they think the money comes from?”

But Moreira Vasco also threw in a gratuitous insult against the MDM, calling it “the son of Renamo”.

Springing to the defence of his party’s honour, MDM deputy Geraldo Carvalho, declared “the MDM did not arise as the result of bloodshed, but through the will of the people”.

Vasco is correct in a trivial sense, in that the MDM did emerge from a split in Renamo in 2008, and so leading figures in the MDM (including Carvalho) were once members of Renamo. But the MDM has eschewed violence, and works through exclusively peaceful channels. And, far from looking at the MDM with paternal pride, many in Renamo openly regard the MDM leaders as “traitors”.

Renamo deputy Antonio Muchanga also claimed that Vasco had offended his party. but Vasco retorted “I’m not going to waste my time replying to a cattle thief”.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique