Malawi risks losing membership of the Southern Africa Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts Committees (SADCOPAC) after failing to pay an annual subscription of $5 000 (about K3.6 million) for five consecutive years.
The unpaid subscriptions have since accumulated to around K18 million over the past five years, according to information gathered from Parliament secretariat in Lilongwe.
Ahead of the SADCOPAC annual general meeting to be held in a few weeks, the secretariat has sent an invoice to the Malawi Parliament to pay at least half the outstanding subscription to avoid being expelled.
While SADCOPAC secretariat project coordinator based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Asmani Kitojo would not divulge the details because they concerned a national issue, Malawi Public Accounts Committee chairperson Alekeni Menyani confirmed that the decision to expel Malawi would be effected at the meeting this month.
There are indications that Malawi will not attend the annual general meeting (AGM) this year because Parliament has not received funding for such an activity.
“We are going to lose out because we worked hard and, as chair, [Malawi] sit on the governing council, which is a decision-making body. The SADCOPAC is due to meet this month where I have been communicated to by Sadc the decision will be effected,” Menyani confirmed.
Menyani said Treasury was responsible for making the payments which, he said, are budgeted for.
.“As chairperson, I am disheartened by these developments as it means all what we have worked for as a committee to be in the core committee of the governing council is in vain. We urge government to save us the embarrassment and pay up,” Menyani said.
In a separate interview, Parliament spokesperson Leonard Mengezi said for a long time payments to international organisations have been handled by Treasury.
“Funding is allocated in the budget, but the money is not released to Parliament because payments are in foreign currency, so Treasury deals directly with RBM [the Reserve Bank of Malawi] to do the transfers,” he said.
Mengezi said the international organisations send invoices to Parliament then Parliament sends them to Treasury to make payments.
But Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said funding for such international obligations has to be done by each concerned institution, adding institutions are expected to include such fees in their budgets.