A mapping exercise carried out by the Non-Governmental Organisations Board of Malawi (NGO-Board) has found that 67 percent of the organisations visited reported a total of K46.7 billion ($63.2 million) annual budgets, but few are submitting financial reports.
The development comes at a time when development partners have dumped government financial systems and opted to use other means such as NGOs to implement programmes after Cashgate revealed serious breaches in the public finance and economic management system.
However, the board has bemoaned that only few NGOs submit financial reports as required by law.
For example, in 2015, only eight of the 161 NGOs registered with the board submitted financial reports as required.
A report of the mapping exercise carried out in October 2015 in 31 district councils also found that due to poor coordination, most councils did not know the amount of money coming into their local councils.
The NGO-Board has since recommended that each local council should create a district implementation plan for NGOs at council level, which would be subject to audits by relevant authorities.
NGO-Board communications officer Joel Mkandawire said on Wednesday the mapping exercise had given the board an indication of the NGO landscape, but without a policy regulating where they operate and emphasis on submitting financial reports, it was difficult to have a clear picture of the financial status of the organisations.
Mkandawire said when registering with NGO-Board or paying the annual restoration fees, NGOs are required to submit audited financial reports.
But NGO-Board has not been successful in implementing this requirement.
“Even during the mapping exercise, only 67 percent of the NGOs submitted their annual budgets. The rest told us the budgets are at central offices,” Mkandawire said.
In an interview yesterday, Council for Non-Governmental Organisations (Congoma) board chairperson Macbain Mkandawire said much as NGOs might feel the exercise was a form of witch-hunting, Congoma is fully in support of knowing where NGOs are working and their sources of financing.
“We are being proactive in wanting to know whether councils are aware of the NGOs working in their districts, how much money is going to a particular sector and the impact that money is having on lives of Malawians. It is a process of social accountability,” Mkandawire said.