Malawi legislators have said they are not dropping their chase for about K10 million (about $25 000) fuel allowance arrears dating back to 2009 despite public condemnation and President Joyce Banda saying her administration cannot afford to meet the demands.
In an interview on Wednesday, member of the MPs’ taskforce on the fuel allowance issue, Nickson Masebo, said they are still waiting for an official response from government on their demands. He added that they will use all available options, including going to court, to get their dues.
The issue of MPs’ allowances has resurfaced following the legislators fresh pursuit that government should implement their 2008 request to have fuel allowances pegged at 500 litres a month, demands which could cost government several billions of kwacha to implement.
“As far as we are concerned, this is something that belongs to the MPs. We are still waiting for an official response from government. The President’s rejection of our demands made at a political platform cannot be taken seriously.
“The President is very much aware of the channels which need to be followed. We are yet to get an official refutation because members did not go to the podium to forward their demands,” said Masebo.
He said MPs will soon decide on the next steps on the matter if government does not meet their demands.
“I am a beneficiary of the previous battle for fuel allowances where MPs had to go to court to get their money even after the end of their term. If money was paid through the court last time, why is government failing to give us the money now?” said Masebo.
He said the MPs will hold responsible all government officers who are blocking payment of the allowances.
“Somebody should be held responsible for not honouring that payment. The Judiciary had their demands and they were paid after strikes, why is the Executive failing to pay the MPs? All arms of government should respect each other,” said Masebo.
Masebo, who is also chairperson of the Parliamentary Public Appointments and Assets Declaration Committee, claimed it was not true that each MP would pocket K10 million in the allowances.
Apart from Masebo, who is DPP, the MPs taskforce on fuel allowances includes Anderson Undani of People’s Party, Mahamudu Lali of UDF and Edwin Banda of Malawi Congress Party.
In an interview on Thursday, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya said they have not received any formal communication on the demands of the MPs. He said Treasury would only pay the allowances if the President gives an approval.
“There has been no discussion with our ministry on this issue. Their request is supposed to be cleared by the President first and that has not been done. We may have the money, but we cannot pay if the President does not approve the request,” said Msowoya.