Locals fire up forex saving solutions

As President Bingu wa Mutharika struggles to push the blames of Malawi’s economic woes to satan and the opposition, some industrial professionals say government must first localise service provisions to Malawian companies as a major way to save forex.

The industrialists say government is major culprit in forex wastage as it always prefers foreign based companies in contracts such as road construction, transport services including supplying of items in departments.

They say payments in all this requires dollars, euros and rands which government prioritises to itself thereby depriving other commercial interests of the country.

Matsimbe: Use local hauliers

For instance the Malawi Institute of Engineers (MIE) said it is cheaper to produce fertiliser local at below K10,000 per 50kgs rather than importing the commodity at about K25,000 each 50 kgs.

“With the high cost of fertliser wordlwide and its cumbersome and expensive transportation from the ports we must empower local by increasing their capacity so that over 80 percent of the product and cost must be retained here in Malawi, in that way more forex will be saved,”said Greshom Sichinga, managing partner at Structural Solutions, civil and structural engineering consultants.

He said services which Malawians have the capacity to provide like ICT, management consultancies must be procured locally as well.

In line with this thinking, Road Transport Operators Association (RTOA) said government and all Malawian cross-border importers and exporters must use local hauliers to save the much-needed foreign currency as the country spends a substantial amount to pay foreign hauliers.

RTOA executive secretary Shadreck Matsimbe said research shows that at Mwanza border only, daily, a minimum of 50 trucks each carrying 30 tonnes of goods, translating to 1,500 tonnes of cargo enter Malawi.

He said if that cargo is to be charged at the cheapest rate of $60 per tonne, then the amount goes up to $90,000 per day and about $2.7 million  per month.

“Now the sad fact is out of this, only 20 percent of the trucks belong to Malawians meaning we are paying a substantial amount of foreign currency to foreign hauliers,” Matsimbe said.

Matsimbe said traffic from other border posts such as Songwe in Karonga, Mchinji and Nacala corridor means more forex is paid out.

He said if the trend continues unchecked, Malawi will be paying more money in freight bills by not using local hauliers.

Matsimbe advised Malawi government to set  a policy to clearly spell out that any Malawian bringing bulky goods by road should use the local transport industry.

He said the local haulage industry, with more than 200 trucks and 100 tankers, also handles 80 percent of fuel imports with 20 percent covered by Tanzanian transporters.

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