29 December 2017

Malawi: Mutharika Says No State Capture in Asians Dominating Malawi Govt Procurement

President Peter Mutharika has denied the existence of state capture when he downplayed racial tensions, linked to the Malawian Asians' economic dominance, saying he had no direct knowledge of corruption.

Responding to a question by Gospel Kazako of Zodiak Broadcasting Service in a television "conversation" on concerns that the government business most of the contractors are of Asian origin, President Mutharika said it is "historical".

"This is historical that the [Malawi] economy, mostly trading has been in the hands of Asian origins," he said.

Karonga central member of parliament Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo is also on record to have told Parliament that he is in support of indigenous Malawians and that government should liberate its people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation and economic inequality.

"Over the years, my observation has been that most Malawians, especially, indigenous Malawians, do not participate or it is not even an attempt to absorb them in the procurement process of government services and products," Mwenifumbo said.

Mwenifumbo urged government to economically emancipate its people from living below the poverty line and ensure economic empowerment through participation in government procurements fairly.

On Zodiak television, Kazako asked Mutharika if he is aware Asians and some foreigners like Burundians and Nigerians are dominating economic activity in the country.

His questions were asked amidst concerns by many Malawians who are fed up with rising unemployment and the general hardships they hoped would be left behind as democracy took over in 1994.

But in response, Mutharika espoused macroeconomic policy that promotes growth, saying there is now "deliberate policy" to include the participation of the Malawian entrepreneurs in the provision of services to government, saying the Constitution and Bill of Rights provides for right to economic acivity.

"We have made progress in procurement policy that certain percentage will be given to indeginous Malawians," said Mutharika.

Mutharika also said the issue of 'indigenous Malawian' terminology "is not as easy" to be classified.

He said there is no better definition for an indigenous Malawian.

However, Mutharika said: " We are going to have deliberate measures to make sure that procurement type of contracts that indigenous Malawians get a good percentage."

Mutharika noted that most Malawians face problems in procurement when it comes to obtaining loans from commercial banks and other lending institutions.

But he said they should now utilise the presence of credit reference bureaus (CRBs) by submitting credit information to the bureaus for easy identification of credit-worthiness of individuals and companies.

"When I was Minister of Justice I introduced credit reference bureau bill," said Mutharika.

He said CRBs play a crucial role in collecting and maintaining credit information for the mutual benefit of lenders and borrowers.

Mutharika urges financial institutions to make use of CRBs.

He also said newly-launched national identification documents (IDs) is one of forge-proof documents which financial institutions can use.

"Now that we have national IDs which I introduced when I was Minister of Justice, this can help in getting bank loans and help economic transformation," said Mutharika.

The national ID cards have been processed and printed by the National Registration Bureau (NRB) with the help of development partners, including United Nations and United States of America (USA).

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