No more ‘per diem hunting’: Donors echo Chakwera commitment to stop workshop allowances

A combination of low wages and perverse incentives motivate civil servants to supplement their income with per diem payments connected to participation in seminars and workshops but the United Nations has come out in full support President Lazarus Chakwera’s recent commitment to end the allowance culture he termed “most difficult form of corruption.”

Torres:Donors have also proposed an immediate end to provision of sitting allowances.

UN Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres, said participation in workshops, training and seminars has often come with several challenges linked to the implementation of harmonized allowances.

“This puts a significant burden on the successful implementation of Development Partner’s efforts, especially in capacity development and limits the impact of our support,” said Torres in a communication to the Office of the President and Cabinet, which Nyasa Times has seen, dated August 7 2020.

Acting UN resident coordinator Benoit Thiry confirmed they have  made a proposal that complied good existing practices and it is not only applicable to Malawi but in other countries as well.

“As Development Partners in Malawi we fully support the vision of President Chakwera and express our high interest to engage with your Government on this issue that is so central to the Public Sector Reform and to our daily business as Development Partners. We are committed to be part of a sustainable and fair solution that encourages integrity and motivation of Malawi’s civil servants,” reads the letter.

In many cases, managers knowingly allowed the per diem irregularities, or accepted the opportunistic organization of seminars primarily intended to maximize per diem payments. They often misused the system to offer extra payments to their staff, and inflated their unit’s budgets to create financial space for the manipulation of the travel compensation system.

But the  development partners have reviewed the developed guidelines  which among others, require that an event; workshop or seminar only be organised in a location where majority of participants are coming from and only those relevant to the workshop should be invited.

“Whenever possible the organising institution shall use its own government or donor venues/ offices meeting rooms to minimise costs,” reads the UN proposal.

Donors have also proposed an immediate end to provision of sitting allowances.

“Participants shall not receive payments (e.g. honoraria) for performing duties during events (e.g. workshop facilitation/ presenting papers /etc.) for which they receive a salary,” she said.

Accommodation shall be provided to participants only when staying overnight and that those duly invited and actually present are eligible for reimbursements.

The organising institution has the option of paying the actual cost of participants’ dinner directly to the hotel full board or offering them a cash allowance for dinner within the agreed maximum established limits.

The Department for International Development (DfID), African Development Bank, Flanders International Cooperation Agency, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and World Bank have agreed to abide to these principles

The Delegation of the European Union to Malawi, German, Iceland, Ireland and Royal Norwegian Embassies and the American government also agreed to the guidelines.

President Chakwera on July 25, in his first weekly address to the nation, spoke strongly against the allowance syndrome.

“The only way to fix it is for all of us who have created and perpetuate this culture to come together at various points in the next six months to create a common approach to allowances that makes sense and stops waste,” said Chakwera.

Donor agencies play an important role in designing and financing development programmes and training events.

 

According to a published research by Arne Tostensen on Chr. Michelsen Institute, governments and donors should promote steps to make more fundamental reforms that change the embedded culture of “per diem hunting” and contain the misuse of per diem pay by managers.

 

“This problem needs to be addressed as part of a broader civil service reform, addressing pay and compensation structures as well as performance management.

 

“Ultimately, when justified, the additional monetary per diem benefits should be incorporated into formal wages,” he wrote.

He said efforts should be made to change the widespread acceptance of per diem allowances as a source of extra pay.

 

“Civil servants at all levels should understand that travel compensation systems are only for the reimbursement of travel expenses–and they need to behave correspondingly. “

 

Meanwhile, the UN says its proposals started before the new regime came into power.

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Mtembo sugeya
Mtembo sugeya
9 months ago

Ife alo workshop yonsitinapitepo zichisedwedi zimenezi zopoila tonse full board basi hahah

Lorna
Lorna
9 months ago

So sad to see so many racist comments towards the US, UK folks.
if tomorrow they all leave Malawi what will so many of you do?
please don’t post fake salaries on this forum, drivers don’t get paid these allowances you quote.
Time for you to stop complaining and start working. Don’t want to do the job you are paid to do? Then leave employment, plenty others waiting to work without trying to steal, deceive the employer.

CADET
9 months ago
Reply to  Lorna

Yes, let them go. We do not need them. after all we already receive peanuts in their watch. What do they say? They are just a bunch of useless foreigners. Lorna; whether you are a man or a woman, i think you are educated enough to know how much Civil Servants suffer to make ends meet. Replacing the entire Civil Service may not be the best way to go. Allowances are there to complement whatever government employees get. I think Chakwera is taking Malawians for a ride. Remember another presidential election will come in 2025 which is not far from… Read more »

Concerned citizen
9 months ago

The major take away from Corona is that may face to face meetings can be done online. Perdiems are therefore no longer required.

Khamani!!!
Khamani!!!
9 months ago

We just need some technology. Some conference rooms , a proper network structure and teleconferencing technology will do it.

No more offsite meetings , toners , reams of paper, accommodation reservations, fuel , vehicle maintenance, per diem allowance – no more!

The savings from this technology implementation should then be used to elevate low salaries.

mtete
mtete
9 months ago
Reply to  Khamani!!!

Can’t agree with you more. This allowance culture has done alot of damage and the sooner it is reviewed the better.
Imagine a Cabinet Minister leaves his office, allowances (fuel, perdiem) duely paid, to visit a project under his Ministry, and demands allowances from the relevant implementing body. GREED of the worst order.
Yes, review the allowance payment.

Kkkkķk
Kkkkķk
9 months ago

Tazikonda zimenezi. Ziyambe ndi President, nduna ndi ma mp. Kenako Civil servant. Asaipe Civil servant lero chifukwa mudaoloka inu chilichonse chaulere koma ma allowance chilandilirenicho.

Khima
Khima
9 months ago

First important thing is to see why Civil servants salivate for allowances…their salaries are unrealistic if compared to the cost of living. They will do all they can to top up their pathetic payslips. If UN wants to do away with these allowances they must expect total resentment from the people involved in their programs.

Fuka
Fuka
9 months ago
Reply to  Khima

plenty people willing to do the job. Everyone in this world is replaceable

Mike Bamusi
Mike Bamusi
9 months ago

Bitter pill to swallow but this is good development.Its exactly what we used to do in UK and we do the same in the US. Next is to cut on the fleet of government vehicles

Marumbo
9 months ago

I am already furious with these NGOs who are advocating for the removal of allowances for civil servants. Chakwera must be very very careful on this one. In fact very careful.

Gwaridi
Gwaridi
9 months ago

UNICEF discriminate Civil Servants. You travel with them to Blantyre, they receive K150,000 per night include their drivers while Civil Servants are only given K30,000.

Mponela hotel
Mponela hotel
9 months ago

Come to our hotels. We will give u the allowances.

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