24 May 2018

Malawi: MBC Grappling With Huge Debts, Tax Arrears - Begs Malawi Parliament for Additional Funds

Photo: MBC
Malawi Broadcasting Corporation logo.

State controlled Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) says a K108m unremitted taxes and other debt is choking its operations and has begged legislators for an additional K1 billion for coverage of the 2019 Tripartite Election.

MBC director general Aubrey Sumbuleta said this when he appeared before the parliamentary media cluster committee.

He was however elusive on accusations of the radio and television's strong bias towards the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Sumbuleta said the K108 million tax arrears has been accumulated in the past year after government cleared it of an initial K7 billion.

He said the accumulation of the new set of tax arrears is as a result of low funding.

"Initially we were given a monthly funding of K149m this was reduced to K129m a month which was further reduced to K70m a month," he said.

He told the committee that this erratic monthly funding forced MBC not to release all tax collected to MRA.

In addition, he said MBC owes MASM K11 million.

He said the state broadcaster asked for K3.9 billion in this year's budget but only got K1.8bn.

In addition, Sumbuleta said MBC will need K1 billion for coverage of elections.

Sumbuleta trashed concerns of MBC bias towards the ruling party.

Said Sumbuleta: "What people should know is that the problem has been rectified and, we now have a misconception that has made the public not to accept us to the extent of even refusing to give us an interview. [For instance] the MCP president [Lazarus Chakwera] doesn't want to give us an interview for fear that we can twist the facts."

He said the core function of MBC, just like any media organisation is to inform, educate and entertain.

Media Committee vice-chairperson Godfrey Mukhondiya, who chaired the cluster, said parliament would do all it can to bail out MBC out of its debt.

He said: "I am hopeful they will gradually change."

During the first term (from 2004 to 2009) of president Bingu wa Mutharika, the then opposition-dominated National Assembly denied MBC funding, allocating it a nominal K1 over its perceived bias.

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