Parliament Wednesday afternoon passed a bill that has formally merged the Malawi Export Promotion Council (Mepc) and Malawi Investment Promotion Council (Mipa) to form a new company to be known as the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre Limited.
The new act to be known as the Investment and Export Promotion Act and the formation of the new company is aimed at creating a conducive environment to trade and investment in the country as well as reducing duplication of efforts of Mepc and Mipa, improve efficiency and ensure cost effectiveness.
Just like all the bills that have been passed in the House, after debate which saw almost 22 MPs contributing, with all of them supporting it, passed without any amendments.
In his winding-up speech to the debate, Minister of Energy and Mining Cassim Chilumpha, who tabled the bill, said the new law will ensure that the country moves forward by enhancing flow of foreign direct investment as well as providing support to local investors.
Chilumpha said among several areas the Act accords priority to investment and export promotion in seven sectors which include agriculture, agro-processing, fisheries, forestry, manufacturing, mining, tourism and â€œother productive sectors the company may determine with the approval of the minister.â€
The Act also provides that application for investment certificate shall be through a chief executive officer of the new company and the application will be considered by a board of directors.
The new Act also provides for the stationing of officers from the office of the Registrar General, the Immigration or any government agency or department involved in the establishment of any investment at the new company as a way of making it a one-stop service provider for various business permits.
This Chilumpha said will ensure that issuance of various business permits is done expeditiously.
During debate, some of those who contributed to the bill advised government to see to it that those who will be retrenched during the merger of the two companies would not be victimised, the CEO is recruited on merit, and that the term investor is well defined.
Chilumpha said during the process, government will apply the â€˜umunthuâ€™ concept to whoever will lose their jobs while at the same time he assured the House that the companyâ€™s CEO will only be recruited on merit.
On the definition of an investor, Chilumpha said basically the requirement will be that one has to invest almost US$250 000 for general investment while for those coming into the country for trading the threshold will be at least US$300 000.
He said apart from such a threshold, Ministry of Home Affairs will also be involved to play its role in the process.
â€œGovernment will be regulating so that those who come to invest do not end up doing activities that will end up defranchising Malawians,â€ said Chilumpha.