Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha has warned ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) against defaulting on taxes, utility bills and pension remittances.
Speaking during a pre-budget consultation meeting in Mzuzu yesterday, the minister said government wants to see productivity in all MDAs so that they are able to meet all their obligations.
“I have a record of parastatals that are not paying tax. I also have a record of parastatals that are not even producing management accounts as well as audited accounts.
“I am also aware of institutions that are not performing; they are not performing and are perpetually making losses. So in this year’s budget we want to see that those issues are dealt with. We want to see that the chief executive officers are performing because that is the reason they are getting taxpayers’ money,” he said.
However, Mwanamvekha justified water boards’ failure to pay taxes, saying MDAs owe them a lot.
He pledged to look into the issue to ensure that water boards are paid on time and that government is not behind their non-performance.
In his remarks, Livingstonia Synod Church and Society programme director Moses Mkandawire blamed MDAs’ inefficiencies on the country’s leadership.
He stressed that leaders are fond of appointing people who have political connections as heads of parastatals and other institutions despite some of them not having the requisite qualifications.
Mkandawire said such appointments compromise professionalism as the heads are influenced by politicians.
“It is you the politicians who are killing these institutions. I don’t mean you as a person, but politicians are a big problem to these institutions. You burden and abuse these parastatals and officials are afraid to go against wishes of politicians because they are afraid of being fired.
“If there was no political interference, these parastatals would have been performing. There is need to ensure that there is no political interference,” he said.
At a similar meeting in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) and Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) asked government to remove value-added tax (VAT) on piped water, bread and electricity.
In her presentation titled Insights from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at the session presided over by Mwanamvekha and also attended by Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Dalitso Kabambe, Mejn executive director Grace Kumchulesi said imposing VAT on such ‘basic needs’, is as good as government contracting its own efforts to provide safe water and ensuring that more Malawians have access to electricity.