President Peter Mutharika yesterday opened the K18.4 billion Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Mzuzu Branch with a call against externalising foreign currency, saying the malpractice deprives the country more wealth than the aid trickling into national coffers.
The President challenged RBM to clampdown on banks acting as conduits for the illicit trafficking of foreign exchange.
He told RBM Governor Charles Chuka that more is expected from the central bank which is in the steering wheel when it comes to regulating the financial sector because the economy will remain troubled unless the central bank, Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), Treasury and other captains of the industry move swiftly to plug the holes.
He reckoned the newly opened RBM branch opens a new chapter, saying: “We expect a lot from you because you are in the driving seat of the financial sector.”
At the height of the 2012 economic meltdown, economists singled out the said massive hemorrhage as the cause of acute scarcity of forex which Chuka ironically blamed for delays in completion of the magnificent RBM branch in the Northern Region.
The cost of the project tripled from just K5.2 billion to K18.4 billion partly due to the devaluation and subsequent flotation of the kwacha in May 2012.
According to Chuka, the cost of the project jumped by K13.2 billion, almost 3.5 times the initial contract sum, because most of the construction material were procured after the 40 percent devaluation which forced contractor SR Nicholas to temporarily abandon the project site under protest having pocketed nearly K13.7 billion.
The building, which has tremendously transformed the skyline of Mzuzu to the extent that Mutharika said the epicentre of the economic activity in the north would be a wonderful city if only it had just 10 of buildings like it.