Malawi: NGO Board Warns against Noncompliance

The NGO Board in Malawi is currently complaining of high levels of noncompliance with reporting requirements by many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), a situation which prompted it to warn that it would stop issuing annual operating licenses to noncompliant organisations.

Section 22 of the NGO Act compels NGOs in Malawi to submit their audited annual financial reports, accompanying returns and technical reports to the NGO Board of Malawi, a state agency that registers NGOs in the country and regulates their operations. The role of the board is to consolidate all the reports of the NGOs and bring them to the attention of the public, development partners and relevant authorities including Parliament, in the spirit of promoting transparency and accountability in the NGO sector.

However, NGOs in Malawi have stated that the reason why they fail to submit external audited financial reports to the NGO Board is that they cannot hire independent auditors whose fees are high. Representatives of the NGOs have appealed to the Board to allow some local organisations to submit internally audited financial reports as it will be cheaper for them to prepare.

The Country Director of Trócaire, Jeannette Wijnants, said, ‘The requirements for reporting in the NGO Act are clear and I think NGOs would always comply. [Perhaps], the main deterrent factor especially [for] many local organisations is the fees they must pay for the audited financial reports’.

The Chief Executive Officer of the NGO Board of Malawi, Voice Mhone, said, ‘The external audit report fees are indeed exorbitant. In these regulations, we will consider allowing “smaller organisations” to submit internal audit reports as long as they are done by qualified personnel within’.

Mhone also noted that ‘the regulations will also deal with the issue of a deadline. The NGO Act is not clear on that one. How many months, grace period, should an NGO be given to submit its audited annual financial report and other documents? At what point in time should they now face penalties?’.

Source: Nyasa Times

Photo source: Malcolm Manners



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