The Ministry of Agriculture has barred Muli Brothers Limited from supplying fertiliser under the Affordable Inputs Programme this year citing “many irregularities.” The K2.5 billion debt Muli Brothers owed to the defunct Malawi Savings Bank obviously comes into the picture.
Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe should do more than tell the nation that Muli Brothers Limited has been removed as one of the suppliers of input supply because many irregularities. What Malawians want to hear is what steps government is taking to remove the irregularities.
However, it is not only Muli Brothers Limited that has defaulted on the loan repayment. There are a total of 13 companies and individuals who accessed loans totalling K6.1 billion loans from the government-owned Malawi Savings Bank, but never repaid. Unfortunately, the DPP government under the ‘unwise’ leadership of Peter Mutharika used tax payers’ money to clear the toxic loans before selling the bank to FDH Bank.
The last time the issue of loan repayment surfaced in 2017 a company that was tasked to recover the loans lamented that no single company or individual had bothered to pay. Efforts to recover the loans were frustrated by endless injunctions to avoid paying loans. Government also showed no interest to recover the loans given the fact that the loan defaulters were politically linked to DPP. And it follows that defaulters were not going to pay back the loans as long as DPP was in power.
Now that the DPP is in opposition, the Tonse Alliance administration should make frantic efforts to recover the loans. This time around, loan defaulters are unlikely to resist because they do not have the pillars to support them. And courts are unlikely to grant anymore injunctions because the injunctions were given in bad faith and some individuals may have been benefiting personally. Where on earth do you issue several injunctions on the same issue?
It is difficult to understand why some loan defaulters have failed to repay the loans. A company like Muli Brothers Limited has been winning multi-billion kwacha contracts from government for so many years and could easily have repaid the debt. One wonders why the loan is still outstanding. Or was it taken as a gift from the DPP government?
The stripping of government assets has to be reversed. The Minister of Finance (or is it the Director of Public Prosecutions?) should institute legal proceedings against all the loan defaulters. To speed up the recovery process, the assets of loan defaulters should be sequestrated and sold to recover the money.
It was immoral and theft for DPP government to use public resources to pay off debts incurred by private companies or individuals. Government has no business paying of debt on behalf of individuals.
As if this was not enough criminality, the DPP government paid a blind eye to recover the loans. The recovery of the loans will assist government to augment the resources the country needs for national development.