By Wezzie Gausi:
The Agriculture and Food Security and Natural Resources Cluster of Parliament has warned that it will not pass the vote on agriculture if the Ministry of Finance will not bail out Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) from debt.
Cluster co-chairperson Sameer Suleman said this when Admarc officials appeared before cluster members in Lilongwe yesterday.
Suleman said it was sad that Admarc kept on making losses instead of profits.
He said, as things stood, Admarc needed a K31 billion bailout to clean its balance sheet when it sells maize stocks in its custody.
“The issue of Admarc has been deliberated for some time now. As a committee, our stand is that the Ministry of Finance should find means to recapitalise the corporation.
“If the budget for the agriculture sector is coming to the Parliament without a provision going to Admarc, that vote will be denied because we cannot be letting our own companies suffer from debt,” Suleman said.
Admarc General Manager Rhino Chiphiko said, last year, they wanted K95 billion but got K25 billion, which negatively affected operations.
He said, this year, they need K48 billion for buying maize and commercial crops.
“We, as an institution, have many challenges. For instance, farm gate prices that do not reflect local and international market forces as well as gross underutilisation of value-adding facilities due to inadequate supply of raw materials for sustainable operations,” Chiphiko said.
Meanwhile, Admarc has said it needs K23 billion which the government owes it for offering social services up to June 2021.
Recently, Admarc officials appeared before Public Accounts Committee of Parliament members, where they had an audit query amounting to about K15 billion. This ranged from lack of loan agreements with some banks and lack of supplier account reconciliation.