Some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have signed a petition expressing their grievances over the proposed NGO Act 2020 Bill.
Top of the grievances by the NGOs are the new fees for registration and annual subscriptions allegedly set by government.
According to Gazette Supplement Notice 30 of May 13 2021, NGOs are supposed to pay K250, 000. Further, NGOs with funding of less than K100 million are supposed to pay K250, 000 while those above K1 million but less than K2 million will pay K1 million. Those above 2 million will pay K2 million.
They decry the fees, claiming that NGOs are not income generating concerns.
Organisations that have signed the petition include Youth Achievers Foundation, Parents of Disabled Children Association of Malawi (Podcam), Centre for Training & Development Organisation, Ungweru Organisation and Macobo.
“NGOs that fail to pay the annual fee are liable to pay a penalty of 5 percent for each month in default and any pending amounts are treated as debt owed to the NGO Board. This clause assumes that NGOs are profit making and have a steady income every year. Even with profit making organisations such harsh penalties, for instance on unremitted taxes, do not exist,” the petition reads.
However, NGO Board Chairperson, Voice Mhone, said the organisations have misunderstood the proposed NGO Amendment Bill 2020.
“The fees which we issued are a result of the previous fees being challenged in court. We have simply made an adjustment that small NGOs should be paying K100, 000 instead of K50, 000. To us, this is not a lot of money because as NGOs, they handle money on behalf of Malawians. So, they need to be monitored.
“The NGO Act Amendment Bill has not been submitted to Parliament yet, but there is a misunderstanding. The bill is not introducing the fees. The current fees are still based on the NGO Act 2001,” he said.
Some of the NGOs that have endorsed the petition are operating in districts such as Lilongwe, Ntchisi, Domasi, Salima, Zomba and Mzuzu City.