Some local and international non-governmental organisations classified as “top 20 NGOs” in Malawi, have asked the government to remove excise duty on more of the products they are importing so that the money can benefit more people in communities where they are implementing projects.
Each of these “top 20 NGOs” is reportedly spending not less than MK4 billion on projects and items they use in a year.
The organizations made their call in the Capital Lilongwe during an interface meeting with the Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati.
The meeting had been organized by the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Board of Malawi to enable the NGOs report to the minister what they do–focussing more especially on projects they undertook in the year 2018.
Apparently, these “top 20 NGOs” collectively spent at least over MK220 billion in 2018 alone.
During Thursday’s meeting, information emerged to the effect that any NGO in Malawi is currently allowed to buy only one vehicle duty free–once in every five years.
After making his presentation, the Country Director for Care International in Malawi, Amos Zaindi, told Nyasa Times that it would be really helpful if government really considered removing the tax the NGOs pay on most of their goods.
“If my organization is running a one billion kwacha project, it means we need more cars and other items. So if more of the products we require are exempted of excise duty, that would mean having more money and activities that would benefit more people,” said Zaindi.
He added: “After all, the money saved from not paying these taxes, will still go to the communities. We are not saying we will take that money anywhere else. We will still spend it towards improving the lives of the people”.
Zaindi then assured the government that once their plea is finally considered, the NGO community will be more than willing to account for the money accumulated from the tax exemptions.
In her response, Kaliati said she had noted the concerns of the NGOs.
However, the minister said the government will ensure that the NGOs prove first what they are doing before it considers their plea.
“What is it that the NGOs are really doing if our communities still face problems of food security, water, poverty and early marriages? Yes, it is indeed true that they pay a lot of taxes.
“But before we look into their issues, let them first account for their money and activities. Let them prove their existence and impact in our communities,” said Kaliati.
She further bemoaned what she described as lack of harmonization and coordination of activities among NGOs, wondering why one organization can implement projects in health, agriculture, education and several other areas.
Kaliati noted that NGOs need to focus in one area if they are to register meaningful impact in what they are doing.
And taking his turn, the Chief Executive officer of the NGO Board of Malawi, Voice Mhone, said NGOs are justified to ask for more tax exemptions because one of the objectives of the NGO Act is to ensure the provision of incentives to NGOs through removal of taxes, among many other initiatives.
However, the CEO–whose board is the registrar and regulator of operations of NGOs in Malawi–called upon NGOs to put their houses in order so that this provision is never abused.
On harmonization and coordination of activities among NGOs, Mhone concurred with Kaliati, saying the organizations really need to be supported in that regard through the Council for Non-Governmental Organizations in Malawi (Congoma)–which is a coordinating body for NGOs.
“Moving forward from here, we will, with the direction of the minister, work towards supporting Congoma to coordinate NGOs so that they are no longer working in isolation. We will encourage organizations to form associations so that they register more impact.
“We will also encourage them to specialize. We will also encourage Congoma to work with sectoral networks such as Malawi Health Equity Network, Civil Society Agriculture Network and Civil Society Education Coalition,” said Mhone.
The NGOs invited to the interface meeting, included; Oxfam, World Vision International, ActionAid Malawi, Concern Worldwide, Banja La Mtsogolo, Population Services International and several others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :