Players in the mining sector have admitted that there is secrecy in the industry where companies, both local and international, refrain from making records of their investments and expenditure public.
Some mining companies that have ever been involved in the country’s extractive industry have persistently come under fire for apparently reaping huge returns in their investments at the expense of locals who are usually displaced or have their lives endangered by the activities.
At a recent workshop in Lilongwe where stakeholders were being updated on new developments to ensure there is transparency in the sector, it was generally agreed that secrecy remains a big challenge in the sector.
In an interview after the workshop, Rakgas Country Manager, Chimwemwe Chikusa, said mining companies spend a lot of money on exploration, the mining process itself, taxes and corporate social responsibility.
He said very few people are aware of the expenditures, which is the reason a lot of information, which implies the extractive industry is not benefiting the country, comes out.
“The records of how much we give to government are usually not made public, but following these new developments, there will be transparency. What we give and what it is used for will be made public,” said Chikusa.
He also admitted that a culture of secrecy comes in because other people would want to benefit from the mining companies once they hear that the companies have given money to a certain entity.
Speaking on behalf of the extractive industry Multi-Sectoral Group, a mining expert, Grain Malunga, said most mining companies are suspiciously looked at because of the culture of secrecy.
Malunga said the companies need to adhere to the requirements of reporting the progress that they are making so that they clean up their images.
“This country has had a volatile period where people think there is a lot of secrecy in the mining sector and this is an opportunity to show the world that they are doing transparent business and have an international reputation of doing business,” said Malunga.
An independent reconciler for the first Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative report for Malawi, Ben Toorabally, said in this day and age, everything has to be done in a transparent manner.
“When you have transparency and accountability in a country, your ratings improve and this leads to investors being interested in the country and that will make the economy prosper,” he said.
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