Malawi govt spending US$5,000 on unused chartered jet

Malawi government, which is struggling to convince donors to support its proposed K743 Billion (US$1 790 361 446) 2014/2015 budget, is currently spending almost US$5,000 (almost K4.2 milion) a day to service a chartered executive jet which is just lying idle at the country’s Kamuzu International Airport (KIA).

The Embraer ERJ 145 Jet owned by ECB Aviation (PTY) Limited of South Africa was chartered to fly President Arthur Peter Mutharika to the United States  but after a second thought and considering the cost government made a decision to have the President flown on the hired jet from Lilongwe to Johannesburg.

From South Africa, according to inside sources, Mutharika proceeded to the USA on a commercial flight while the plane which has been chartered for almost a month returned to Lilongwe where it is parked at the country’s major airport since Friday, August 1, 2014 the day the President left for the USA.

President Mutharika boarding the chartered jet
President Mutharika boarding the chartered jet

“The Jet will only go back after it has completed its task of flying the President back into Malawi. It will again pick up the President from Johannesburg,” said the source.

If the Jet will remain at KIA hanger for the whole month it means that government would have to cough a total of US$150,000 (almost K63 million) on the daily charges alone which include airport fees and other aviation charges excluding the cost of the charter itself.

The Embraer ERJ 145 is the largest of the group of jets produced by Embraer, a Brazilian aerospace company. Family members in the series include the ERJ 135 which has a capacity of 37 passengers, ERJ 140 with 44 passenger capacity while a non-executive and non-modified ERJ 145 has a capacity of 50 passengers.

Mutharika left for Washington DC where he is attending the US-African Leaders’ Summit which started on August 4 and is expected to end Wednesday August 6, 2014.

Recently Malawi’s developing partners rebuffed Malawi which was trying to solicit almost K200 billion to support the 2014/2015 budget deficit with the target being the troubled health sector.

The country’s Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe announced that the 2014/2015 budget is expected to be pegged at K743 Billion (US$1 790 361 446) but admitted that the budget is likely to face challenges in several sectors due to a likely huge deficit.

Gondwe also disclosed that the Malawi Government was having a myriad of trouble to come up with the national budget due to the suspension of aid by some of the country’s partners.

The country’s presidential jet was sold by former President Joyce Banda

The jet was bought during administration of late former president Bingu wa Mutharika but the move attracted widespread criticism from the donor community and other quarters of the society,

His successor later sold the plane to Virgin Islands-registered firm Bohnox Enterprise Ltd for around US$15 million but the use of the proceeds has remained a mystery, with Banda initially saying the funds were used to purchase grain.

Other officials said the jet was battered in an arms deal and that the cash-strapped Malawian government never realized any financial proceeds from the sale. The deal is being probed.

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