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Members of Parliament back maize hike

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While some sections of the society are expressing displeasure with the government’s decision to peg maize price at K250 per kilogramme, translating to K12,500 per 50 kilogramme bag, Parliament says it sees nothing wrong with the pricing arguing that Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) obtained a loan to purchase the staple grain.

President Peter Mutharika announced the new maize price a week ago during a press briefing in Lilongwe, jumping from K195 per kilogramme or K9,750 per 50kg bag which Admarc had been charging during the past few months.

Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, told The Daily Times in an interview yesterday that the set price is realistic putting into consideration the fact that Admarc needs to pay back its loan and also factoring in the overheads like transport and fumigation.

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Malunga has nonetheless faulted the grain marketer of being secretive by not making a full disclosure that it had obtained a loan.

“There are certain decisions that have to be made for the good of the country. There is no decision that you are going to make and no one is going to complain, never! It can’t happen. We have to move on. Is this fair enough? I think it is but I think where Admarc went wrong is that they did not tell Malawians the truth the time they [Admarc] were buying that they had obtained a loan and that they needed to pay it back,” Malunga said.

The Parliamentarian said it was likely that the new pricing will form part of the debate during Parliament sitting which is expected to commence on November 21, but pointed out that the logic behind the new arrangement needs to be commended.

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“Government should just ensure that it is making available humanitarian maize to those poor people who are unable to purchase [from Admarc],” he said.

In its September review report, International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautioned government against subsidising maize to avoid worsening public debt which is still very high.

Admarc Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mlumbe, last week told journalists that the grain marketer had spent K22.4 billion to buy about 100,000 metric tonnes of the grain from the local market.

Admarc opened its markets across the country on Monday last week and spot checks by this paper show that they are no longer long queues of people wanting to purchase the maize.

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