An outlook of the 2020/2021 financial year shows that the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have spent an estimated K815 billion, according to NGO Board.
But only 35 percent of the NGOs submitted financial statements to the Board, as per law.
The information is contained in a 2020/21 NGO sector report to be officially released next month.
The report further shows that top 20 organisations spent over K176 billion on various projects across the country.
This was disclosed in Mzuzu on Friday when the board engaged board members of various organisations on NGO Act, policy and regulations guiding the sector.
It was further disclosed that as per the NGO Act of 2001, NGOs are required to submit audited financial statements, annual return forms, and annual technical reports to the Board.
However, however only 35 percent complied.
Director of Corporate Services for NGO Board, Linda Njikho said in 2020 only 228 out of 643 NGOs complied with the requirement.
Njikho said the failure to submit reports results in the NGO sector failing to meet the set accountability bar against global best practices.
She further said there is not much impact to show as compared to the resources the sector is receiving.
“There isn’t much impact happening on the ground. However, with the financial reports that we received for 2020/2021 we did monitoring exercise, we sampled some few NGOs. So we went to see the work they are doing on the ground. It showed that other NGOs are doing good work. We visited organisations like Baylor (College of Medicine) which has constructed a clinic at Area 24 in Lilongwe, we have many other organisations in Chikwawa, Dowa among others.
“However, there are still others who provided reports but when we went on the ground we could not find anything that had been done,” she said.
By far, the NGO sector could be the richest in the country.
For example Malawi’s major forex earner, raked in about K160 billion in the just ended 2021 tobacco season.
The NGO sector is even closer to the K1.1 trillion the government is looking for in taxes through the Malawi Revenue Authority in 2021/2022 fiscal year.
However, in its 2019 report NGO Board noted the sector’s sustainability is a mere dream as at that time only one percent of the NGOs had diverse sources of revenue other than just depending on donors.
Economic expert, Betchani Tchereni from the University of Business and Applied Science, said there is need for serious regulation in the sector as there is no meaningful impact on the ground.
“Actually, the NGO sector is spending very close to what the government spends. One wonders where are we spending the money on the ground?
“You would see that most of the money is going to workshops, buying big cars, huge salaries, irregular allowances, so little is going to the actual beneficiaries,” he said.
He further suggested that NGO board should scrutinise relevance of some projects adding they should be in line with the Malawi 2063 blueprint
Currently, the NGO sector has become another arm of the country’s economic spectrum.