By Mandy Pondani
Vice President Saulos Chilima has justified the recent water tariff increase, saying it was effected to save water boards which were on the verge of collapsing.
Chilima made the remarks in Mangochi Friday when he opened this year’s Public Relations Society of Malawi (PRSM) annual lakeshore conference.
The vice-president said almost all water boards, except one, were bankrupt and could not have existed for the next two months if they had not hiked their water tariffs to increase their revenue.
However, Chilima blamed officials at the water utility companies for not effectively communicating the reasons for the upward adjustment of tariffs to Malawians.
“Almost all water boards were bankrupt; as a result, their managements decided to engage the government to approve water tariff hike. As government, we agreed because if we rejected the hike, about four water boards could have closed in the next two years. This could have affected continuous water supply to Malawians,” Chilima said.
He further expressed worry that public relations machinery for the boards decided to stay back without giving accurate information to Malawians.
“The President did not go to the boards to ask them to increase tariffs. It is the boards which came to Cabinet pleading so that their companies can continue to survive,” he said.
Chilima also challenged the PRSM members to lead the rebranding exercise of the country so that Malawi can have a positive image which can help to attract investors.
“Yours is a position which demands that you always have information for journalists. As such, you need to be part of the management so that you can be in the know anytime,” he said.
In his remarks, PRSM president Benson Linje pledged that the society will come up with resolutions which will help in setting up a task force which will be working with government in promoting the image of the country.