Chakwera and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nancy Tembo (R) in New York
The majority of the people who have accompanied President Chakwera to the United States for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) are getting US$560 (about K580,000) per person per day in allowances with ministers receiving US$900 (nearly K1 million) per day for 24 days.
Chakwera has travelled with 37 people to the United States and this means that at least US$21,000 is being spent on allowances per day for the whole delegation.
Normally, many members of Chakwera’s delegation were supposed to receive US$280 (about K290,000) per day and ministers were required to receive US$450 (about K465,000) per day but the allowances have been doubled by the Chakwera administration, citing a rise in cost of living in New York..
The mind-blowing figures have been published today by the Malawi News. According to the newspaper, normal government external allowance is at $280 per day per person but in recent years, the government used to approve one-and-half rate, translating to $420 (K435,000) per day per person.
From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nine officers, including the Minister and Principal Secretary, will be in the United States for 24 days while some officers in the ministry will be there for 25 days and others will be there for 27 days.
During her stay in the US, the minister Nancy Tembo will get K25.7 million in allowances while the Principal Secretary and other officials from the ministry get a combined K131.3 million in allowances. The ministry has also spent K54.3 million on air tickets, car hire and secretarial work for the ministry officials.
Chakwera has also travelled to the US with officials from Ministry of Health, including the minister, as well as from the ministries of education and natural resources.
In addition, government has spent around K174 million on air tickets alone for the 37 delegates.
Chakwera and First Lady Monica Chakwera left Malawi on 12 September and they are expected to return on 2 October.
The extravagant spending in United States Dollars comes as Malawi is struggling to resolve the problem of forex scarcity which has led to challenges in procuring fuel.
Last week, former President Peter Mutharika claimed that government borrowed forex from banks for Chakwera to travel to the United States. Mutharika also faulted Chakwera for travelling to United States in the middle of an economic crisis in Malawi.
Speaking to Malawi News, Economist and Director of Centre for Research and Consultancy Milwad Tobias also wondered why Chakwera as undertaken the trip.
He said: “The leadership has lost sensitivity. In the crisis the nation is in, no serious leader worth the title leader would have the luxury of travelling outside.
“The same government that banned lakeshore conferences to cut on expenditure is the same government that has doubled allowances for a trip that otherwise would not have even be undertaken and the Ambassador to the UN would have represented Malawi.”.