Malawi influential weekend newspaper has hit at government for keeping K9.5 billion from sale of Malawi Savings Bank two years after it was sold to financial mogul, Thom Mpinganjira.
In an editorial comment headlined, ‘Government can’t weigh options on MSB for two good years, the Malawi News says Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe cannot intimidate Malawians, who are demanding answers on what has happened to the K9.5 billion realised from the sale of government’s 75 percent in MSB to FDH Holdings.
Gondwe had said: “Its nonsense to think that the money can be abused” and that the government is still weighing options and the public will be informed.”
The editorial comment minces no words: “In all fairness, it could be the Finance minister who is peddling nonsense here. How long does it take to weigh options on money?” questions the comment.
In the story that attracted the comment, Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) executive director Dalitso Kubalasa says further delays and indecisiveness on how to use the money may lead to abuse of the funds.
He said it does not make sense for the authorities to keep huge sums of money idle, yet they have the option of investing the funds in profitable causes.
Kubalasa said ordinarily, a cost benefit analysis ought to have been done to determine whether it was right to offload assets of the bank at the time and quickly reinvest the proceeds.
“It’s a huge concern and very costly if you consider the value, in terms of inflation. Possibly, the proceeds are now making profits for some institutions and not Malawians who are the owners of the money. It’s so worrying that the government hasn’t figured out what to do with the proceeds two years down the line…” said Kubalasa.
Currently, the funds are with the Public Private Partnership Commission, an agency that invested the proceeds on behalf of the government.
He said the government would have brought the matter in parliament. “There is need for accountability on the issues of assets. Malawians are concerned and let’s not forget that MSB was sold after a public debate and, therefore, taxpayers are justiied to raise questions as to what has become of the proceeds following the sale,” he said.
The editorial comment therefore picked on the Finance minister, Gondwe, saying alarmingly, MSB was sold in 2015 and Gondwe, as an acclaimed economist of yester-year, should be the first person to know and appreciate that K9.5 billion of 2015 will not have the same value in 2017.
“Why the Finance minister wants to change colours and go against the very same things that were drummed into him in basic economics class many years ago beats the wits out of us. Politics has way of changing people into something else,” says the comment.
The comment further says that Gondwe cannot be as condescending as to lecture Malawians on abuse because Malawians see abuse and malfeasance under the watch of President Peter Mutharika’s government.
It further says Malawians see abuse of public funds every day and everywhere that, if we were to start enumerating examples, there would be no newspaper space in the world to carry them and we would go on and on until the cows come home.
The comment says due to a myriad of problems, ranging from corruption, inefficiency to mismanagement of public finances, Gondwe as finance minister cannot balance his books and that is why he wielded his chopping axe on almost every vote except the State House during the recently concluded mid-term budget review meeting of parliament.
“Why would Gonder, therefore, as an expert in finance, allow some revenue of government to sit idle somewhere for two years in the name of weighing options when his shopping list is as tall as Kilimanjalo Mountain?” queries the comment.
The comment says at the end of the day, Gondwe and his government must know this simple home truth, MSB belonged to Malawians as their asset.
It says there is a risk that the money might evoporate especially under the watch of a government that is chaotic and full of corrupt characters.
In conclusion, the comment says there is just something that does not add up here because, for all intents and purposes, weighing options on proceeds from the sale of a national asset cannot take two good damn years.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :