JTI lobby Malawi MPs to pass new Tobacco Bill

Japanese Tobacco Company (JTI), a tobacco buying and processing firm, on Friday urged Members of Parliament to table, discuss and pass the  the long-awaited Tobacco Bill  which is critical to end some challenges facing the industry.

JTI Leaf Malawi head offices in Lilongwe
MPs listening to JTI Leaf Malawi officials

Tobacco is Malawi’s number one foreign exchange earner which accounts for about 60 percent of export earnings. In recent years, the crop has faced a number of challenges, including the worldwide anti-smoking lobby and low prices offered to farmers.

Speaking when Members of Parliament toured JTI Headquarters in Lilongwe, the company’s Corporate Manager, Limbani Kakhome said the bill, once enacted into law, will help to improve the welfare of people plying the tobacco business.

Kakhome said the current law is outdated having been enacted in December 1948.

“This law was formulated 48 years ago, meaning that it was good and meant for tobacco industry then,” said Kakhome.

According to Kakhome, tobacco remains the backbone of Malawi’s economy, hence it needs to be properly regulated by laws that conform to the current trends.

Maxwell Thyolera and Chidanti Malunga are Parliamentary Committee Chairpersons on Legal Affairs and Agriculture respectively  said that the Tobacco Bill would be a welcome development to many farmers who feel shortchanged in terms of prices.

“As Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, we pledge to push for the tabling and passing of the new Tobacco Bill. Honestly, as a country we cannot be using laws passed 48 years ago,” said Malunga.

Once the Bill is passed, it is expected to make the industry more efficient and this is good news to both the buyers, growers, graders, floor operators as well as transporters because their challenges have been tackled in the Bill.

JTI Leaf Malawi has since  assured lawmkaers that it will continue with its social corporate responsibilities to its farmers across the board.

The company officials disclosed that the company has drilled 128 boreholes, built seven classrooms and donated 3,023 desks.

Kakhome also disclosed that JTI is initiating bee keeping projects.

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