MP Masangwi raises K34m Pres Banda’s foreign trip bill in Malawi Parliament

Zomba Ntonya MP Ted Salule Masangwi  (DPP) on Monday  raised the issue in Parliament that President Joyce Banda blew  $92,000 (about  K34 million) for 3-day foreign trip in Equitorial Guinea last week when social sectors such as health are facing fiscal crisis.

The President went to Equatorial Guinea to attend the Africa-South America day-long summit.

In his contribution to the debate on the 2012/13 midterm budget review, Masangwi raised the issue which Weekend Nation newspaper exposed  on Saturday that the trip blew K34 million, saying it contradicts the administration’s austerity drive.

But Foreign Affairs Minister, Ephraim Chiume stood on a point of order, saying the trip bill was  partly funded by the host country.

Chiume: Also consider the benefits President Banda has brought from her trip
Chiume: Also consider the benefits President Banda has brought from her trip

“We had a whole plane which was made at her (President Joyce Banda) disposal. We should also appreciate whatever the President  brought into this country,” Chiume said.

The newspaper reported that State House wrote National Bank of Malawi’s Capital City Service Centre requesting “for forex worth $92 240” for President Banda’s trip.

The paper quoted  a forex request letter dated February 16 2013 reference number 2/1/47B/3,  which was signed by three senior State House officials—chief of staff Ben Mbewe, his deputy Charles Thupi and senior accountant, a Mr. H.O Mulwafu.

The letter instructed National Bank to charge the amount on State Residences’ other recurrent transactions (ORT) account number 0141335014600.

On February 18, the bank’s Capital City operations manager Margret Kamlongera wrote Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), requesting withdrawal of $100 000 (around K36 million) to finance Banda’s travel, according to the paper.

“We have been requested by State House that they will require cash for the presidential trips to cater for external travel allowances. In this regard, we request for a withdrawal of $100 000 from yourselves,” Kamlongera wrote to RBM director of banking and currency management in a letter referenced Exchange Control/cp/dsn.

President Banda also justified her three-day trip, saying it is going to improve the bilateral relations between African and South American countries and opened up trade deals for Malawi.

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