Management of the public tax collector, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), bypassed its board when it borrowed K15 billion from commercial banks to create a rosy picture of revenue collection for the hastily implemented zero-deficit budget (ZDB).
MRA board chairperson Dr Charles Mataya confirmed in an interview on Thursday his board was never made aware of the K15 billion (about $60 million) borrowing from local banks by MRA. He said board members were equally shocked at the current revelations.
He said: â€œWe never authorised that borrowing. We were never made aware of it. We have called for an emergency board meeting [this Friday] and we will be able to provide you with information after that meeting.â€
This latest development comes against a background of Finance Minister Dr Ken Lipengaâ€™s admission on Tuesday that MRA borrowed K15 billion from the banks.
Meanwhile, sources at MRA disclosed on Thursday that government has directed MRA to recalculate and come up with actual collection figures within the period the borrowing was made and the time figures were cooked up. The sources disclosed that the board wanted the figures for this Fridayâ€™s meeting.
The sources said there was panic at MRA headquarters in Blantyre and officers were working overtime to come up with the actual figures.
MRA spokesperson Steve Kapoloma asked for a questionnaire when asked about the issues, but there was no immediate response.
ZDB was former president Bingu wa Mutharikaâ€™s pet project towards economic independence after he fell out with donors and development partners due to governance concerns last year. Traditionally, donors support the country national budget with resources estimated at 40 percent.
Several experts and opposition political parties that have called for Lipengaâ€™s head, argue that lying to Parliament and the nation was illegal and a big sin, and have argued it was not possible for the Finance Minister not to know the borrowing.
When Balaka South Member of Parliament George Nnensa blew the whistle in Parliament in February this year that MRA had borrowed money to doctor its figures of revenue collection and that he had evidence, both Lipenga and MRA director general Lloyd Muhara disputed the claim separately.
Lipenga said on Wednesday in response to growing calls for his resignation that his hands are clean on the borrowing because it was not sanctioned by him and he had no knowledge figures were cooked to beef up MRAâ€™s performance last year.