Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) in Malawi did not consult the Ministry of Finance when it increased Cabinet ministersâ€™ accommodation allowances by 80 percent.
Last month, Malawi Government outraged people when it announced the jump in Cabinet ministersâ€™ accommodation allowances from K25 000 (about $83) to K45 000 (about $150) effective August 6 2012.
A well-placed ministry source on Wednesday said Treasury was taken aback by the decision.
According to the source, those condemning government for not suffering with the rest of Malawians in the wake of the current economic hardships could be justified.
Said the source: â€œHow do you raise the allowances of ministers without the knowledge of Treasury? I can tell you that OPC raised those allowances on its own and Treasury was not consulted at all.
â€œGoing out telling people that we cannot sell the Mercedes Benz [vehicles] at this time, I think that was not proper. That message could have been put across in a better way considering the suffering Malawians are going through.â€
Clerk to Cabinet Clement Chinthu Phiri on Thursday declined to comment on allegations that OPC raised the allowances without the knowledge of Treasuryâ€”the custodian of government purse.
â€œI cannot comment on that one,â€ said Chinthu Phiri. â€œIn fact, I am out of office in the village on holiday.â€
Secretary to the Treasury Radson Mwadiwa did not answer his phone while Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga was not available.
But Chinthu Phiri said last month the increase was a response to a hike in hotel rates.
He also argued that the increase was already factored in the budget because the OPC knew that there would be those adjustments.
At the time, Chinthu Phiri defended the increase, saying although it may look contradictory to cutting public expenditure, ministers are people who also deserve decent accommodation.
But Consumersâ€™ Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said it is surprising that all Malawians are being asked to tighten their belts while President Joyce Banda and her ministers are still enjoying the best privileges.
Malawi Economic Justice Network executive director Dalitso Kubalasa, also speaking in the August interviews, said the increase of the allowances could be misinterpreted as â€œunfortunate contradictionâ€ in the light of the pressing need to find redress for civil servants whose monthly salaries are a third of such an adjustment.