MRA spends K7bn on China’s ‘free’ scanners-report

With a cloud of uncertainty still hovering over disenchanted Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), latest revelations indicate that the revenue collector spent billions on cargo scanners that were donated as gifts to Malawi by China government, the Weekend Nation reported on Saturday..

The paper has based its revelations on an approved budget for the scanners where it is established that the planed scanners project cost around K7 billion.

In the report, MRA was supposed to raise K1 billion while Malawi government was to contribute the remainder.

However, a progress report of MRA covering the period between July 2011 and February 2012 show that the institution paid almost 90 percent of the total amount.

Lipenga: The scanners were a grant from China

“Two scanners are already in the country and two drivers are undergoing training. Three government officers are also undergoing training. Technical training for customs officials is scheduled,” reads the report in part. It further reads, “almost 90 percent of the total estimated cost of the project is used up. The project may need additional resources considering the insurance premium of K55 million to be paid and the training of customs officials.”

But what has raised eye brows is the fact that MRA is spending huge sums of money on the cargo scanners that are meant to be a donation from China, meaning Malawi is not supposed to spend such whooping amount of money.

Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga confirmed that “to the best of my knowledge, the scanners were a grant from China. They were processed through the Chinese Embassy and that former Secretary to Treasury Joseph Mwanamvekha and former MRA boss Lloyd Muhara travelled to China to facilitate the process of shipping the equipment to Malawi.”

Meanwhile, the newly appointed MRA boss, John Biziwick has refused to comment on the issue, saying he is just new in the office and has no knowledge about the scam.

On its part, the Chinese Embassy through its press officer Wang Juncheo also confirmed donating two scanners and added that the remaining three scanners would arrive in the country soon.

The use cargo scanners at Malawian borders, according to experts, are of great significance to the country as they have capacity to deter smuggling of toxic and harmful items thereby protecting Malawians from such weapons.

It is revelations like these that are proving beyond doubt how the Mutharika regime plundered the country’s economy without any remorse.

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