Opposition lawmaker Juliana Lunguzi has suggested that government should let the Immigration Department of the Home Affairs and Internal Security Ministry to be an independent body like Malawi Reveneu Authority (MRA).
Lunguzi, who is Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislature for Dedza East said in parliament that if the Immigration Department is made a independent, “they have the capacity to mobilize more resources. “
She said: “So, as it is in the coming year, we are giving them K1.1 billion yet this is an institution that has the capacity to collect more than K6 billion in a year. If given more resources, they can even double the revenue which, as a country, we are struggling to have.”
Added Lunguzi: “We should listen to the Immigration Department and make it an independent institution just like MRA. If you can agree, the percentage of the revenue they can remit to Account No. 1 will enable them to effectively operate and generate more resources for the country, which we desperately need. If we give them less, they will not be able to function optimally. “
Supporting the calls for the independence of the Immigration Department, MCP member of parliament for Kasungu East, Madalitso Kazombo noted that department is able to generate enough resources and operate efficiently, but because whatever they collect is given to Account No. 1 then they still face a lot of challenges.
“For instance, the whole Northern Region has got one vehicle for operations. With the poor roads that are in the north and the terrain we have, the department needs at least good 4 x 4 vehicles,” Kazombo said.
“Housing is another challenge at the Immigration Department; out of 650 officers they only have 59 houses. This is terrible after 50 years of independence, if Kamuzu rises today I do not think he will be happy, so 650 officers with only 59 houses?” said Kazombo, a relation to founding president Kamuzu Banda.
He also said Immigration Department should be equipped with modern technology.
“There are only three places that have got computers at the department in the country: that is Blantyre in Chileka and Kamuzu International Airport and yet this department is crucial and needs to be computerised,” he said.
Government , through Minister of Lands Atupele Muluzi, standing-in for Home Affairs Minister Jappie Mhango, conceded that the potential for revenue generation is great with Immigration.
“It is therefore, possible for the Immigration Department to generate additional revenue and the matter is under discussion with Treasury,” Muluzi said.
“ They are specifically providing a provision for the Immigration Department to return a certain amount from what they are generating. So certainly this is something that is under discussion between Immigration Department and the Ministry of Finance,” added Muluzi.
Press reports also indicate Immigration Department in the Northern Region has been forced to start issuing provisional travel documents to clients applying for passports due to a shortage of passport books which has hit the office for a long period .
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