Malawi plans to use the $15 million (about K5 billion) it gained from selling its presidential jet to feed the more than 1 million people suffering chronic food shortage.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government had bought the Dassault Falcon 900EX jet in 2009 for former president late Bingu wa Mutharika at $22 million. But President Joyce Banda decided to put the Presidential jet on the market following pressure from cooperating donors and civil society groupings to sell off the jet to be in line with the country’s austerity measures.
Ministry of Finance Spokesperson Nations Msowoya said officials in the ministry are working on the budgetary requirements before releasing the money towards the purchase of maize.
“It was a collective government decision that the money realised from the sale of the jet will be used to purchase maize locally and some for legume production,” said Nations Msowoya, a spokesman for the Ministry of Finance.
Food experts have said 10 percent of the country’s 13 million citizens face food shortages this year.
But political analyst Henry Chingaipe criticized the decision to use the jet money to buy maize , calling it a misplacement of resources considering the huge investments that have already gone into maize production through the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) and several other parallel initiatives introduced by government aimed at tackling food insecurity in the country.
“Last year we spent over K50 billion to finance maize production under the subsidy programme and this year it has gone up to about K60 billion. Spending more money on consumption by using proceeds from the sale of the jet which was an asset to buy maize is a misplacement of resources because it is transferring an investment into consumption which is not a viable decision,” Chingaipe told a local daily.
“By using the jet money to buy maize, they just want to justify the travelling because some of this maize that will be bought will not be sold but distributed freely for political gains,” said Chingaipe.
Government sold the jet, a Dassault Falcon 900EX at US$15 million, two months ago to Bohnox Enterprise Limited of British Virgin Islands, five million dollars less than its market value.
Malawi spent U$22m to buy the jet in 2009.The contract of sale, however, was only finalised at the end of July when the money was transferred and the plane was flown out of the country.