Chief immigration officer Masauko Medi has told the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament that the Immigration Department should be given authority to collect visa and passport fees paid through embassies to boost government revenue.
Currently, there is no system for embassies to remit the revenue collected through issuance of visas and passports as these funds remain with the embassies, Medi said on Wednesday.
Appearing before the committee, Medi said non-remittance of revenue collected at embassies had resulted in the Immigration Department failing to meet its annual targets by 21 percent.
In the 2014/15 financial year, Immigration Department collected K3.5 billion against a target of K4.5 billion and Medi believes this would not have been the case if embassies remitted revenue.
“Malawians in diaspora pay passport fees in the embassies and the passports are printed here. Visitors pay the visa fees in the embassies to visit Malawi.
“Both the passports and visas come from Immigration, but the revenue collected in these embassies are not remitted to Immigration,” he told the committee.
“That money is not being remitted to any account. We [in authority] go to embassies and use that money to send our relatives to hospitals and other things because there is no system there to remit the funds.”
To bypass this anomaly, the Immigration Department plans to introduce an electronic visa issuance system to boost revenue collection as visitors would be applying and paying for visas online.
“All the visa fees will then be remitted to Immigration as opposed to the current set-up where revenue collected in Malawi foreign missions is not remitted,” Medi said.
Passport fees were reviewed in November last year which a 320 percent hike which resulted in an ordinary passport being increased to K48 500 from K15 100.
The Immigration Department has expanded its reach of visa fees collection to include countries where Malawians are required to pay visa fees to enter their countries including Britain and United States of America.
With the electronic visa issuance system, the government could collect even more revenue effective October 1 this year