It has emerged that President Peter Mutharika on Tuesday missed a crucial meeting in New York to discuss a second compact grant with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) executives after failing to make it to the venue at the appointed time.
Presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani said in an interview on Sunday senior officials from the MCC—financiers of the compact—returned to Washington DC from New York without meeting Mutharika and his team after waiting in vain at the proposed venue.
In a WhatsApp response, Kalilani said: “The President drove down to the UN Headquarters to attend the official opening of the Unga. As fate would have it, the Unga delayed and it overrun to the scheduled time for the MCC meeting.
“The President was caught up in this situation and the MCC team was informed accordingly that the President would not make it to the hotel by 11.30am. The MCC team was informed that the President’s next available time for the meeting was at 16:30 hours after addressing the general assembly.”
But, according to Kalilani, the MCC team said the proposed 16:30 hours clashed with their other engagements as they had to fly back to Washington DC the same day.
Without committing to when the crucial meeting would take place, he said: “The two parties are talking about rescheduling this very important meeting.”
Mutharika is currently in the United States of America where he went to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly (Unga) that ended on Friday.
Before the President’s US trip, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said Mutharika was scheduled to meet MCC acting chief executive Brock Bierman in New York to discuss the way forward on the second Malawi compact after the successful implementation of the five-year $350.7 million (about K245 billion) energy compact which expired on September 20 this year.
MCC last month reported to the US Congress that Malawi remained an eligible recipient of its support owing to the country’s lowest per capita income as per a World Bank assessment.
US Ambassador Virginia Palmer and Gondwe were quoted as having confirmed the planned negotiations between Mutharika and MCC executives.
Malawi was rated as having performed well on the 2018 MCC scorecard, having passed half of the 20 indicators given.
Through its local implementing agency, the Millennium Challenge Account-Malawi (MCA-M), MCC has funded the rehabilitation, modernisation and upgrading of the 1966 built 24-megawatts Nkula A Hydro Power Plant.
Project goals included increasing Nkula A’s generation capacity from 24MW to 36MW.
When contacted on the way forward after the failed meeting in New York, MCA-M officials referred the matter to the US Embassy in Lilongwe.
But US Embassy information specialist Marcus Muhariwa said the embassy was still consulting on the matter.
Apart from the Nkula A rehabilitation, some of the major works the MCC compact has done include increasing transmission capacity from 132 kilovolts (kV) to 400 kV whereas works on Nkhoma, Luwinga and Bwengu substations would be completed. n