Government through Ministry of Information Tourism and Civic Education Jappie Mhango has trashed media reports that it is spending MK307 million monthly on President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika’s aide, saying the inaccurate and false.
Mhango’s statement follows a story carried by Weekend National of January 23, 2016 titled “APM’s Aides in MK307 million package”.
In the story, the paper revealed that despite Mutharika reducing the number Cabinet Ministers to 20 as part of austerity measures, the government is spending more than MK307 million monthly on Mutharika’s aide who are 16 in total.
According to the paper, Presidential advisors are entitled 500 litres of fuel a month (about K400 000), a vehicle which they drive themselves, medical scheme and airtime, free water, free electricity, DStv subscription at a combined cost of almost K300 000 ($434), including a driver and guard who are also allocated about K100 000 ($145) on top of a salary of close to K1.6 million ($2 312), which translates to K25.6 million ($36, 994.21) a month for the 16, totalling K307 million ($443 641) annually.
But reacting to the claims, Mhango said Government is concerned that some sections of the media are persistently trying to make the nation believe that the savings from the reduced Cabinet have been cancelled by the appointments of Presidential Advisers and Assistants.
“The publication of this misinformation is an outright betrayal of the many Malawians who unsuspiciously and innocently read news purely on trust that they are reading facts and truth. We note that the regurgitation of the said misinformation is coming in a pattern of other false stories that have been desperate to create propaganda that Government is extravagant.
“The public is reminded that the President reduced the number of Ministers from twenty four (24) in Joyce Banda’s Government to the current sixteen (16), and from six (6) Deputy Ministers to the current two (2) Deputy Ministers. Lest we forget, the size of cabinet once hit a record of forty-six (46) members in the past. The surviving truth is that Peter Mutharika’s austerity measures and reduction of cabinet is saving huge sums of money and these savings cannot be undermined by the misinformed opinion being created around the President’s professional supporting staff,” reads in part the statement.
He added: “In the spirit of transparency, we have looked at the total packages for the eight Ministers and four Deputy Ministers who were deleted to compute the amount of savings that were achieved by the President. The packages include salaries; and allowances for housing, fuel, and telephone; pensions; driver; as well as motor vehicle running expenses. We have also included costs for personal staff such as the Personal Assistant, office Secretary and a personal Security Guard. These savings come to MK28,039,992. from the eight (8) Ministers and MK11,835,268. from the four (4) Deputy Ministers.
This The statement continues……..
We have also looked at the motor vehicle servicing expenses. The cost per service is about MK450,000 and the average is about three services per year. This computes to a monthly saving of MK1,800,000 from servicing the cars of these twelve Cabinet members ie the eight ministers and four deputy ministers that have been deleted.
There are also substantial savings being realized in the merging of Ministries as one would expect. For instance, an analysis of the merger of Ministries that covered Mining, Energy, Environmental Affairs, and Climate Change revealed total annual savings of MK112,786,840, or MK9,398,903 per month. This exercise is going on in other merged Ministries and we expect other substantial savings to be revealed there as well. The grand total amount of monthly savings shall therefore be MK9,398,903 from merging ministries, plus MK39,875,260 from reduced number of cabinet ministers and MK1,800,000 from servicing reduced number of ministerial ministers. This comes to a grand total savings of MK51,074,663. These are commendable achievements of the President by any standard, and we should all commend him.
We then looked at the total packages for the Presidents, Advisers and Assistants. There are only two of them at Grade C of the Civil Service. The rest are: Another two at grade D, and eleven at grade E of the civil service. The allegation that most of them are at P2 is therefore a calculated distortion and falsehood. The sum total for the monthly packages are MK3,699,604 for the two (grade C officers), MK2,460,024 for the two (grade D officers), and MK10,837,211 for the eleven (grade E officers). Depending on the Civil Servants entitlements and grades, these packages will include fuel, telephone allowances, and where applicable, Personal Secretary and a Driver with a vehicle. Only eleven of them have vehicles, which comes to a monthly car service bill of MK1,650,000. The total monthly expenditure for the Presidential Aides comes to MK18,646,839.
This must now mean that the net monthly savings, after the cabinet reduction savings of MK51,074,663 and the Presidential Aides expenditure of MK18,646,839 now comes to MK32,427,824. On an annual basis, this is MK389,133,888. The expenses for the Presidential aides certainly do not, and cannot, cancel the savings from the cabinet reduction as has been alleged from some quarters. Sadly, these facts were provided the first time the false story was published before being regurgitated two years later now.
At grade D or E of the Civil Service, whose packages are well known, none of the 14 aides at these grades can earn gross salaries of MK750,000 per month. In addition, they do not receive MK400,000 worth of fuel per month, and like other Civil Servants, they get no housing allowances. They also do not get MK300,000 worth of utilities paid for as alleged in the article.
Their drivers are on the same grade as other drivers in the Civil Service. Five of these officials have no cars. The claim that they all have cars is therefore false. They do not go to every local function of the President and receive allowances, but only go to those which directly affect their specific duties.
The accommodation arrangements for these aides are subject to same conditions and regulations as for other Civil Servants. In Blantyre, where the President often stays at Sanjika Palace, there are guest houses for the State Residences where these officers do stay. This arrangement saves the State House huge costs in hotel bills. In fact, it is these guest houses which have cooks and guards, but these have been presented as personal entitlements for the President’s Aides in this news article.
Government wishes to remind the media that its doors remain open for journalists to obtain or verify information. Malawians deserve a patriotic media of highest integrity and professionalism because we all read news on trust that we are being told the truth.
HON. JAPPIE MHANGO, MP
MINISTER OF INFORMATION, TOURISM AND CIVIC EDUCATION
February 3, 2014