In a move likely to further strain taxpayers if approved, the country’s 462 ward councillors are demanding a 250 percent raise in their monthly honoraria from the current K100 000 to K350 000.
Besides honoraria, the councillors are also seeking an increase in entitlements such as loans, fuel allocation and airtime. Further, in their demand letter, the councillors want to have health insurance at government expense.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Alexander Shoti, a member of a 12-councillor executive, said they presented their demands during a Malawi Local Government Association (Malga) Annual General Conference held between September 12 and 13 in Lilongwe.
He said: “Our committee presented the proposals to the Malga Finance Committee which forwarded the same to Parliament for consideration during the current budget meeting.
“We made it a point that if our proposals were not considered, we would have to appeal to the minister responsible and all the way up to the President if there is no progress. But if we fail to get the answers at that point, then we will hold vigils.”
Shoti said the councillors were demanding more because they felt their work required increased resources to ensure effective implementation of development projects.
A letter from Malga dated September 17 2019 signed by Malga president councillor Wild Ndipo, who is mayor for Blantyre City, also proposes an upward adjustment of the District Development Fund (DDF) from K3 billion to K5 billion. Further, the councillors want government to buy official vehicles for district commissioners (DCs), the revision of inter-governmental fiscal transfer formula and the infrastructure development fund for city councils.
The demands, forwarded to Parliament through the Social Welfare Committee, if approved, would cause a burden to the public purse as the government will have to cough about K2.4 billion on the loans alone for 462 councillors from the current expenditure of K693 million.
In a written response yesterday, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development spokesperson Muhlabase Mughogho said the ministry was not aware of the demands.
She said: “We have not yet received a report on the outcome of the Malga conference. When we do, we will follow the laid down procedures including consultations to find out the feasibility of those demands.”
If approved, government would also require about K162 million to pay honoraria each month up from K46.2 million while the fuel allocation bill would jump from K16 million monthly to about K61 million.
Other demands that the councillors have made include an allocation of K10 000 worth of airtime for each councillor.
In January this year, proposals were made to raise the package for councillors by 193 percent which were approved a few months later.
The proposals in January meant that the package, which included sitting, telephone, fuel and field allowance, would rise from a collective K4.9 million to K14.3 million.
When contacted for comment yesterday, Malga executive director Charles Chunga in a telephone interview confirmed of the proposals. “We have therefore channelled the same through the relevant committee for cluster deliberation before they are taken to the plenary session. Whether they are going to materialise is a different thing,” he said.