Ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government have tendency of bypassing Parliament when adjusting government fees, a move that Legal Affairs Committee chairperson Kezzie Msukwa says is a violation of the Constitution.
Msukwa said the country’s MDAs have been in violation of Section 58 of the Constitution, which delegates to the Executive or Judiciary the power to make subsidiary legislation such as adjusting tariffs and government fees—which form part of non-tax revenue.
The Section reads in part: “Parliament may, with respect to any particular Act of Parliament, delegate to the Executive or Judiciary the power to make subsidiary legislation within the specification and for the purposes laid out in that Act and any subsidiary legislation so made shall be laid before Parliament in accordance with its Standing Orders.”
Msukwa cited the Directorate of Road Traffic Safety Services (DRTSS), Immigration Department, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi and water boards as some of the institutions that need to inform Parliament before implementing new tariffs or government fees.
“Parliament has a legal and representative role to play at every proposed increase in tariffs that directly affect the people. But these institutions bypass Parliament. We want to check if the increase would go against the law and also how it will affect the people that we represent,” he said.
This week, Parliament pended the increase of new road traffic fines that DRTSS wanted to implement.
Msukwa said the DRTSS proposals did not go through Parliament and at the moment even the proposal for passport fee hike has not been brought before Parliament.
Immigration Department spokesperson Joseph Chauwa said the department will not start implementing the new passport fees until the proposals have been gazetted.