Balaka South MP George Nnensa on Wednesday demanded an apology from ‘the responsible minister’ over the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) K30 billion scam now that the matter is in public domain.
Nnensa, who is also Malawi Forum for Development (Mafunde) president, made the demand in his contribution to the 2012/13 national budget debate.
Nnensa first blew the whistle in Parliament in February this year when he said MRA’s revenue collection figures were spiced up with unauthorised borrowings from commercial banks.
Amid applause from opposition MPs, Nnensa asked Cabinet ministers involved to take responsibility and that if they were given wrong figures, then ministers under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration were incompetent.
Said Nnensa: “When this MRA issue came up, I was heckled and jeered by a number of senior DPP ministers in the name of collective responsibility. I was even called malicious and aiming at tarnishing the reputations of officers at MRA.
“Now that the truth has come out, they have to take responsibility as a team. If they knew the truth, then they lied to Parliament and the nation. If they claim that they did not know, then the Cabinet was incompetent. The nation and I demand an apology from the responsible minister.”
MRA saga wake-up call
Nnensa said the MRA saga should serve as a wake-up call to the People’s Party (PP) government and make the party be on its toes and transparent.
Before Nnensa, the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament also presented its response on the budget in which it also cautioned government that the House will never allow to be cheated on what happened with the MRA figures.
Committee chairperson Eunice Napolo sounded the warning after questioning government that despite the budget projecting increased domestic revenues and scrapping or reducing various taxes, government has not outlined substantial reforms in revenue collection in the face of failures last year.
Nnensa first told the House in February that MRA borrowed about K15 billion (about $60 million) from commercial banks before his claims were trashed by the Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga. The figure rose to K30 billion (about $120 million) when some information came to light.
However, soon after Joyce Banda took over the presidency in April, Lipenga admitted that MRA borrowed some money to beef up the revenue figures, a development that called for his resignation before the President appointed a Cabinet Committee to investigate the matter.
She gave the team seven days, but the target has expired and there has been no word from government.
Meanwhile, tension and drama engulfed Parliament later on Wednesday after Second Deputy Speaker Juliana Mphande angered Minister of Energy and Mining Dr Cassim Chilumpha, forcing the minister to accuse the chair of “treating Malawi Government in a discriminatory manner.”
The exchange between the two followed remarks made by Nsanje South West MP Vera Feramenga Chilewani that the Mozambican Government has no capacity to supply electricity as required in the two country’s recent interconnection agreement.
After being given the floor, Chilumpha said: “What I was doing is to correct a very fatal mistake that Mozambique has no capacity to supply electricity to this country. That is lie, it is wrong for anyone of us to speak on behalf of Mozambique.”