7 March 2018

Malawi Parliament Endorses New NGO Fees Hike

Three parliamentary committees have endorsed the hiking of fees non-governmental organisations (NGO)s pay to government based on the funding they receive and not a fixed amount as is currently the case and are calling on both local and international NGOs the country to comply with the new fees structure.

The civil society previously chided the new fees structure as repressive and the move forced Council for Non-Government Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) to appeal to Parliament to intervene.

Parliamentary Committee on Social Welfare chairperson Richard Chimwendo told reporters during a news briefing that his committee, alongside Legal Affairs, and Budget and Finance, have agreed to adjust the fee structure.

He said after being concerned with expressions by some NGOs that the fee hike by NGO Board was infringing on their rights and that the NGO Board was trying to police them, they invited the NGO Board to explain why it had changed the fees structure and what they do and wanted to do with the money.

Banda said after hearing from the Board, the committee was satisfied that the NGO Board was operating under the law and that every NGO needs to register with the Board and pay the fees as required, advising those organisations which have problems to meet the NGO Board to discuss and solve their problem amicably.

"As a committee on social and community affairs with support from different parliamentary committees such as the budget and Finance and the legal affairs committees, we wanted to make it clear to you that we support the initiative that NGOs operating in this country must register and this is the law that we had made" said Banda.

Banda, who was flanked by chairmen of the legal affairs committee Peter Chakhwantha and other members, said there were modalities by parliament to ensure that at no point in this country, will NGOs suffer under the operations of the NGO Board.

"We do not want at any time to see our NGOs in this country getting discriminated and oppressed, but at the same time we would want to see our NGOs in this country to be transparent and accountable," he said

"At the end of the day, we don't feel that it is a bad adjustment. We really want to see the NGO Board do their work of monitoring NGOs effectively," he said.

NGO Board revised annual subscription fees for NGOs depending on their annual income and not on their status as being local or International.

The new fees structure demands that an NGO with an annual income of less than 100 Million should pay K50, 000, those whose annual income is more than 500 Million, and less than 500 million plus one will pay K250, 000, above 500 Million plus one but less than 2 billion will pay K1 and those above 2 billion will pay K2 Million.

Before that, local NGO paid K50, 000 while International ones paid K250, 000 per year.

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