Cabinet ministers are drawing allowances for coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic assignments, it has been revealed after government spokesman had denied the matter but an internal communication at Capital Hill has revealed the taxpayers are financing travel allowances for the ministers and their travel party.
“May controlling officers submit this morning [Monday] to the Ministry of Disaster Management Affairs, by way of memos, all officials and support staff accompanying the ministers, indicating names, name of banks and account numbers and vehicle registration numbers for processing of allowances and fuel arrangement,” reads the leaked communication seen by Nyasa Times.
The internal communication on field trips further reads : “ The contact person for these transactions is Mr Dyce Nkhoma, deputy director of response and recovery [Ministry of Disaster Management Affairs and Public Events].”
Nkhoma has confirmed that he is coordinating the funds but that Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) is the one which is “responsible for the budget and funding.”
The issue of allowances comes at a time when President Peter Mutharika ordered a 10 percent pay cut for himself and his 32-member cabinet to cushion the impact of coronavirus on the economy.
But while the government is to direct the resources to the fight against the virus pandemic, the ministers in Covid-19 Committee are in self-enrichment drawing allowances together with members of parliament belonging to the Committee on Health for the field trips on pretext of assessing preparedness of Covid-19 at district level.
Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communication Technology, Mark Botomani, a member of the Cabinet committee and official government spokesman, who recently branded issue of allowances as fake news, has refused to immediately comment on the revelations.
Botomani may come up with a spin on the matter later.
Cabinet members earn large sums of money beyond their salaries through allowances and other benefits.
And the Covid-19 is being turned into an allowances spinning exercise and have been taking trips to various districts nationwide to pocket allowances and cushion themselves from the salary cut.
Critics query government that instead of reaching out to the vulnerable people and cushion them against the negative impact that has come about because of COVID-19, the Special Cabinet Committee are taking advantage to enrich themselves.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :