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Visa fee proceeds still stuck in embassies

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Several weeks after an audit of government accounts in Ministries, Departments and Agencies for the period ended June 30 2019 exposed gross misuse of resources Public Accounts Committee (Pac) of Parliament has lamented failure by Malawi’s foreign missions to remit funds collected through visa fees back home.

The committee’s chairperson Ken Kandondo on Friday expressed disappointment that a lot of funds, which are yet to be accounted for, are staying idle in embassies at a time the country is struggling to provide basic needs and services to people.

“Foreigners who want to come to Malawi have to pay fees for visa. We are aware that some of the embassies are keeping funds that should have been sent here for sales of visa. The committee is concerned because we need to have each and every resource in the country for our hospitals,” he said.

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Kandodo said there is a risk that the funds could be misused, stressing that the committee will strategise with relevant ministries on how to transfer the funds to the country.

“We have agreed to have a meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Secretary to Treasury and the committee to establish how much in total is being kept in our embassies. We have to verify if the money is there in embassies and we should also make a plan on how to transfer the money back to Malawi,” he said.

This was after the Immigration Department appeared before the committee, together with other departments under the Ministry of Homeland Security

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Spokesperson for Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Davis Saddo said Treasury is aware of the matter.

“The issue is about the modality of repatriation because of laws that other countries have on repatriation of resources. The proposed meeting will be good for us to map the way forward. Sometimes arrangements are made on how such resources could be used with approval of treasury,” he said.

The Auditor General’s report has exposed serious financial flaws in the country’s embassies, including misallocation of resources, payment without supporting documents, paying school fees to non-deserving beneficiaries among others.

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