A columnist in one of the Malawi’s leading newspapers has raised eyebrows over Malawi government logic of holding Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) which largely aimed to woo investors into the country.
In his column which appeared in the Weekend Nation, Moses Michael-Phiri describes the initiative as one of “cash cows for the ruling party.”
“Investment forums and many other such forums that have little impact on Malawians are money-generators for the ruling elite” he says.
Malawi government recently announced it will not hold its third Malawi Investment Forum (MIF) this year to pave the way for an assessment and review of outstanding issues from previous forums.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Henry Mussa told reporters in the capital Lilongwe that in the past two investment forums government signed a lot of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and that most of proposed deals are yet to be concluded.
Mussa said seven companies signed MoUs during the 2016 MIF while the one held in 2015 yielded deals and MoUs worth $1 billion (about K734 billion).
But Michael-Phiri is not amused.
“Good people, let us not be fooled by this government,” he says. “when President Peter Mutharika won the controversial May 2014 elections, one of his promises was to improve the economy by bringing in direct foreign investment. But three years down the line, it is business as usual. In fact, factories are shutting down instead of opening.”
He says investors flock to a country where the business environment is right.
“They (investors) are not fools to come to a country such as Malawi where corruption—a major obstacle to investment—starts from the top. Investors will not invest in a country where electricity—a major resource for production of goods and services—is erratic and government red tape and regulations are still 20th Century.”
Michael-Phiri continues: “Apart from high levels of corruption, lack of security and high taxes, Malawi has porous borders.
Counterfeits have flooded the country. Our laws are weak and are not enforced to stop counterfeits from suffocating local producers. Do we expect investors to invest in such an environment?
He says all what politicians want from such meetings are opportunities to enrich themselves through the provision of transport, food, stationery and other services to the forum at exorbitant prices.
“These investment forums are benefitting a few!”
He says president Mutharika, minister Mussa and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government must know that as long as they continue to have no strategy for controlling corruption and how to improve the country’s security, no foreign investor will be interested to come and pour his money into the country.
“As some have said before, Malawi is a leaking bucket!”, he concludes.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :