There is still a cloud of uncertainty as to whether government will recover K6.1 billion which the State paid off on behalf of some companies and individuals who owed the now defunct Malawi Savings Bank (MSB).
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Davis Sado on Wednesday in an e-mailed response confirmed that two years after the government formed a special task force to recover the money, it has not reported any progress.
Said Sado: “In terms of debt collection, you might be reminded that there is a special purpose vehicle, which was formed and mandated to handle the matter on behalf of the government. They are yet to give a final report to the government on the matter. The public will be notified accordingly since the matter is of public interest.”
The decision to sell MSB was made when the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) said the bank was weighed down by bad loans and that it required $48.3 million in capital and liquidity by June 2015 to satisfy Basel II financial and regulatory requirements or risk being struck off.
President Peter Mutharika nodded to the sale of the bank despite strong opposition from Parliament.
In 2015, the government embarked on a move to recover K6.1 billion which some entities and individuals owed the bank which was owned by the government.
Among the toxic assets list are Mulli Brothers Limited which owed MSB about K4.9 billion, Varibo Spirits owed K397 million, KJ Transways had K172 million while Ganizani Transport had K97 million to pay.
Others are Maranatha Institute of Education, K83.9 million, Consolidated Building Contractors, K71 million while CK Construction owed K69.8 million.
DPP member Bintony Kutsaira’s firm owed government K65.9 million, whereas K30.7 million was owed by MGI Trading, Injena Petroleum Limited had K27 million, Angel wings had K20.7 million and Eranive Trading owed the government K12.7 million.
Attempts to speak to chairperson of the task force Chadwick Mphande proved futile as he did not pick up his phone since Tuesday this week.
However, Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) executive director Dalitso Kubalasa in a WhatsApp response on Wednesday trashed the government’s talk that it was making efforts to recover the money.
Said Kubalasa: “Somehow one easily gets the uncomfortable feeling that Malawians were duped to believe that this was going to be recovered when the authorities already knew it was never going to happen. I just hope this is not the case and that the government will come clean and explain to the taxpayers who are already getting crucified, carrying other heavy load of anguish while the villains are well-known and gallivanting around scot-free. Malawian taxpayers deserve better and need this money on Friday, more than ever.”
He said Parliament and the National Audit Office should step in to get the money.
Chairperson of the Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament, Rhino Chiphiko, did not pick his phone.
Economics lecturer at Catholic University, Gilbert Kachamba, called upon the Ministry of Finance to set up clear timelines of the recovery process.
“It is unfortunate that the government is yet to recover this money which belongs to taxpayers. This calls for clear-cut timelines that the government should set up instead of throwing the matter up to the special vehicle. The bailout was questionable,” he said.