Constitution Amendment Bill deferred to next week

SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini says the Constitution Amendment Bill will be tabled for its third reading next week on Tuesday.

Mr Speaker said this when he ruled on a point of order raised by Choma Central Member of Parliament Cornelius Mweetwa.

Mr Mweetwa wanted to know through the Speaker whether the executive was in order not to bring the Bill for third reading as promised to the House and Zambians last week.

The Speaker said the Clerk of the National Assembly was already handling the issue but assured the House that come Tuesday the Bill would be tabled for third reading.

The Constitution Amendment Bill was today supposed to be tabled for final reading after passing the first and second reading.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda says the Treasury has to date released K894, 289,575 to pay farmers for the crop they sold to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

Presenting a ministerial statement in Parliament, Mr Lubinda said of this amount K646.8 million was released earlier and paid to the farmers.

He said the balance of K247.5 million has been received by FRA and is now being disbursed to various districts in order to pay off the balance owed to farmers.

And Mr Lubinda says at the end of the marketing season, the FRA purchased 596,193 metric tonnes of maize.

He said the agency also purchased 68.2 metric tonnes of paddy rice against the targeted 2100 metric tonnes.

“This is a major achievement considering that all funds to pay farmers were mobilized within a month after the closure of the marketing exercise on October 13, 2015. When compared with the 2014 crop marketing season, the agency had only disbursed K461, 798, 720 by November 23, 2014 leaving a balance of K982, 039, 480 owing to farmers. The farmers were only paid in full in January 2015,” Mr Lubinda said. He said Government was committed to ensuring the safety of the crops purchased by maintaining it in good quality.