Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has accused some foreign investors of crippling the country’s economy through illegal externalisation of foreign exchange.
But Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) spokesperson Mbane Ngwira said there is nothing wrong for investors to externalise their profits as long as they follow proper procedures.
MCCCI president Newton Kambala, in an interview on Friday, however, said the chamber has evidence that some foreign investors are externalising hard cash illegally.
He said this is on account of a number of people arrested at the country’s airports attempting to take out foreign exchange without proper documentation.
Said Kambala: “What is happening in Malawi is bad as people from all over the world come here with little money not worth being called investors.
“For instance, some come with just $30 000 [about K21 million] and open a trading shop and after making some money, they buy dollars, maybe $50 000 [about K35 million] and leave the country in four months.”
Kambala, therefore, said the economy is not benefiting from these investors because they are just making Malawi a source of capital for some businesses. He said MCCCI has on a number of times approached government on the issue and always gets assurance that something will be done to correct the situation.
Ministry of Industry and Trade spokesperson Wiskes Nkombezi could not be reached on Tuesday to comment on what they are doing to address complaints by the private sector lobby group.
But Ngwira said there is need to verify the charges levelled against foreign investors caught externalising foreign currency before making sweeping statements.
“There is nothing wrong with investors externalising their profits as long as they follow proper procedures and did not do anything illegal,” he said.
Ngwira said the country’s exchange control regulations allow investors to register their capital and are free to take their profits elsewhere as long as they have proper documentation.
In August last year, a Pakistani national Muhammad Jawad was arrested at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre with $270 000 (K187 million) without supporting documents while in September a Nigerian businessperson was also arrested at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe for attempting to externalise $26 150 (K18 million) without proper documentation.
Most of those caught are fined and upon payment, they are released and given back their money. n