Economist Betchani Tchereni has asked President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to ignore the suggestion by Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa that government should divert Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (MAREP) funds towards rehabilitation of Kapichira Hydro Power Station.
Tchereni, who is an associate professor in economics at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS), described the suggestion as “dangerous and an insult to rural communities who need electricity more to better their economic livelihoods.”
He was reacting to reports that Nankhumwa had written President Chakwera, suggesting that the Head of State should authorize Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) to divert K17 billion for MAREP and use it to rehabilitate Kapichira Hydro Power station to end electricity woes.
Nankhumwa said MAREP has over K50 billion, which is just lying idle as it generates K20 billion every year and for two years, the funds have been dormant.
“This money from MAREP is enough to rehabilitate the Kapichira Hydro Power station as a crisis measure while processes to obtain money from the World Bank and elsewhere they are obtaining can be done later,” he said.
But Tchereni warned that Nankhumwa’s suggestion, if taken on board, could cause fragmentation and eventually delay development thereby preventing the country from achieving its social and economic aspirations as espoused in Malawi 2063.
“In public sector, when funds have been diverted, it’s very difficult for you to get back those funds. There must be a reason why we have MAREP – and it’s because we do realize that there are people in the rural areas who need electricity.
“They too need to enjoy electricity just as their counterparts in urban areas are. If we are suggesting that funds allocated for rural development, what are we doing? Are we serious about developing the country?” he asked.
Tchereni observed that funds, which the UDF, People Party and DPP administrations diverted have not been recovered to date.