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John Kapito bashes government, underperforming parastatals

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Outspoken Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) Executive Director, John Kapito, has accused government of glorifying and rewarding underperforming utility bodies such as Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Blantyre Water Board (BWB) with meaningless tariff hikes in 2015.

But Minister of Information and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango, said it is too early to do a proper analysis and rating of the parastatals that are undergoing reforms.

In his summary of last year, Kapito said it was one of the worst years for consumer welfare as almost all water boards, Escom and the Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation(Admarc) exposed consumers to some serious cases of service delivery mediocrity.

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Kapito said for the year 2015, Escom would get a 10 percent mark for persistent electricity problems that failed to inspire potential investors, 30 percent would go to Blantyre Water Board for providing no alternative sources amidst massive problems.

According to him, Admarc would, definitely, get a straight zero percent for adding no value to the lives of Malawians.

“You find that the most underlying causes of the inefficiencies are poor management and corruption but nobody seems to be talking about those things in the open. We expected the government to come out and say there is a lot of corruption and mediocrity and we root it out by removing certain systems. But instead of doing so, these organisations are being rewarded.

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“Right now, Escom is being rewarded by increases in tariffs that do not make sense to any Malawian. When you look at the arithmetic, where they have put that institution to be given a tariff hike, they don’t add up at all.

“You find that they are being awarded instead of them being punished. In summary, all the public service providers, especially the utility providers, have failed Malawi. The blame must go to the leadership of this country which has decided to protect these poor service delivery institutions during the year,” Kapito said

He also said instead of strongly implementing reforms , it is surprising that the government officials, including President Peter Mutharika, have been at the centre of defending the poor performance at Escom in the year yet power utility’s performance history has been wanting.

Kapito also said in 2015, BWB raised its tariffs and consumers did not complain but instead of appreciating the gesture, what the Board could provide to consumers were water woes.

But while insisting that line ministries are answerable for the performance of specific parastatals, Mhango said people ought to understand that the parastatals are currently going through some reforms and it would be fair to give them time before any performance assessment.

Central Region Water Board, Lilongwe Water Board and Kapito’s chaired Southern Region Water Board also received some backlash for giving their customers raw deals during the year ending.

“Maybe I would leave out Northern Region Water Board because, at least, they have done remarkably well. But most of them, I think we have seen a lot of challenges, a lot of consumer complaint in terms of service delivery. They have never been able to meet and satisfy consumer demands. And even the quality of services that they supplied has been poor,” Kapito said.

He then described Admarc as an institution that has failed to think beyond the period of its establishment and continues failing to match what the institution was supposed to be delivering to what they were supposed to be doing to achieve that purpose.

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