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Government to spend K3.5 billion on idle Admarc staff

Agriculture Ministry justifies move

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Betchani Tchereni

By Wezzie Gausi:

The government will have to spend about K3.5 billion on payments to Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) staff for doing nothing over a period of five months, The Daily Times’ calculations indicate.

This is so because Admarc’s wage bill stands at K750 million per month, according to figures presented recently by Admarc Board former chairperson Alexander Kusamba Dzonzi to the Agriculture Committee of Parliament.

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On September 1 2022, Agriculture former minister Lobin Lowe shut down Admarc, citing high levels of corruption, theft and professional negligence at the State-owned grain trader.

Admarc is reported to have 4,063 salaried employees when it needs 1,500 members of staff only.

From September 2022 to January 2023, the government will have spent close to K3.750 billion on people that are doing nothing.

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In an interview with The Daily Times, Secretary for Agriculture Dickxie Kampani said government is duty-bound to pay Admarc staff.

He said until Admarc is restructured, the government will continue to pay employees as they are still employed by the Malawi Government.

“We are working on restructuring Admarc, a task that was supposed to be done by early this month.

“But, as things stand, we have no choice but to pay the people even though they are not working,” Kampani said.

However, Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences Associate Professor Betchani Tcheleni said Sunday that it does not make economic sense to be paying people that are doing nothing.

He, however, said, since the government is to blame for the situation, it cannot do otherwise but pay the idle staff.

“After all, the money these people are getting was budgeted for. So, let government continue paying them until the issues at Admarc are resolved.

“Nevertheless, whatever is happening does not make economic sense in a country like Malawi. But we must understand that if it fails to pay them, the government may be sued and may end up paying even more. The main thing is for Admarc to be restructured as soon as possible to avoid some of these costs,” Tcheleni said.

The Ministry of Agriculture gave itself three months to conclude the investigations and restructure the corporation.

Admarc owes commercial banks over K70 billion in unsettled loans.

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