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Mera ‘loses’ K1.8 billion in maize deal

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THE Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) has admitted it can only recover K1.1 billion from the K2.9 billion from the Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) it used last year to buy 10,000 metric tonnes of maize for Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).

This is despite a recommendation Mera Board made in March this year that Admarc should pay back the K2.9 billion. In a response to our questionnaire, Mera Consumer Affairs and Public Relations Manager, Fitina Khonje, said the process of recovering the money is still going on.

“The sum that is recoverable from Admarc regarding the proceeds of sale of maize provided by Mera amounts to K1.1 billion. As of 3rd May 2016, it was established that out of the 10,000 metric tonnes of maize, 5,241.936 metric tonnes of maize had been sold and that the sum of K576, 612,960 was realised from this sale. On 28th of June 2016, Admarc paid the sum of K250 million to Mera,” Khonje said.

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When the issue came to light, details later emerged that the 10,000 metric tonnes of maize, was bought from Auction Holdings Commodities Exchange (AHCX), at K270 per kilogramme (Kg), but Admarc sold the same at K110 per.

According to Khonje, after paying Mera the sum of K250 million, it was noted that Admarc used the sum of K257,500,000 to cover handling expenses incurred in handling the maize.

She said Mera has engaged the Auditor General to assist in verifying the authenticity of the handling charges and to determine the actual maize sold as well as the balance thereof.

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“Mera has been engaging Admarc with the assistance of the office of the Attorney General, the Secretary to the Treasury and the Comptroller for Statutory Corporations to ensure that Admarc pays the outstanding sum of money to Mera. Admarc

indicated that they are unable to sell the balance of the maize (4,758 metric tons) as the local market is currently saturated with maize harvest this year,” Khonje said.

She  said noting that government has allowed Admarc to start buying maize from the local market, Mera has requested Admarc to use the opportunity to buy off the maize which is already in its custody so that the money is remitted to the energy-regulator.

Admarc Public Relations Officer, Agnes Chikoko Ndovi, did not respond to a questionnaire sent to her over issues Mera is raising. But previously, the graintrader’s Board Chairperson, James Masumbu, confirmed that the company paid Mera K250 million.

Mera’s use of the K2.9 billion to purchase maize for Admarcl ed to the dismissal of chief executive officer, Raphael Kamoto, and termination of contract of director of finance Elias Hausi. Kamoto, however, obtained an injunction against the decision.

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