Malawi’s flagship dialy newspaper, Daily Times is urging the government to act with speed in canceling the K24 billion Zambia maize deal payment.
This follows an economics expert, Ben Kalua’s advice to government to seriously consider nullifying a loan from PTA Bank worth K24 billion that is meant to be used to procure 100000 tonnes of maize from Zambia, saying the country stands to lose a lot if it proceeds with the deal.
Kalua, an economics professor at Chancellor College, told The Daily Times that the maize crop looking promising in the fields, the country may be faced with serious storage challenges if it procures additional tonnes from Zambia.
Parliament last year borrowed the money in the wake of looming hunger which threated at least 6.5 million people across the country.
“There is over production of maize in Zambia this time around and even here we may have a surprise and be able to fill up our empty silos but we don’t need too much of it.
“If there is need to supplement in just a few districts where people will not harvest enough, the the government can purchase locally but we don’t need the remaining tonnes from Zambia,” he said.
Finance minister Goodall Gondwe refused to comment on the issue, saying he was not involved in the procurement of the maize.
Chairperson of joint committee of parliament that probed, Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the committee regrets the loan adding that now the issue of getting back the funds is critical.
In its Friday editorial comment, the paper says it is clear now that the Malawi government’s attempt to buy maize from Zambia was badly handled and that Malawi stands to lose out in the transaction.
It says the government cut a lot of corners in their effort to purchase the maize. As a result, the government ended up committing to pay Zambian Cooperative Federation for the maize which the state grain trader did not even have.
The comment says the government has to make a concrete decision before Malawians continue to pay for the mistakes of a few individuals who apparently wantedd to fleece off Malawians.
“As the government mulls over how to get out of this unnecessary debt, interests and other charges continue to accrue on this transaction,” says the comment in part.
The comment further says it is disheartening to learn that the minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe does not want to have anything to do with the transaction.
“But Gondwe must know and accept that someone within government has to clear this mess. And he is the right person to correct the mess which his own government dragged Malawians into,” says the comment.
In conclusion, the comment says it is imperative that the government must bite the bullet and cancel the whole deal.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :