By Matthews Kasanda
The government has said the $60.8 million [K49.6 billion] passport deal between the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services and Techno Brain had several wrong “things” and should not have been signed in the first place.
Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda told journalists on Monday that, after observing this, his office has referred the matter to the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB).
He further indicated that the company was now demanding money from the government, which could not have been the case if arrangements were made under the Public- Private Partnership Act as well as under International Investment Law.
Under terms of the contract, Techno Brain was tasked to upgrade the passport issuance system and issue 800,000 passports at $76 [approximately K62,000] per passport booklet.
“They are also retaining all revenue generated by the Department of Immigration. I think you might be aware that, at some point a few years ago, the government introduced visas with respect to some countries. The idea was to generate forex… documents indicate that from the time that Techno Brain signed a contract, it had been retaining all the proceeds that Immigration generates,” he said.
He said, since the money is paid in United States dollars, there was no benefit to Malawians because they were paying a minimum of K90,000 for a passport.
Chakaka Nyirenda said those involved in creating the “mess” by entering into the contract would be held responsible, not only criminally, but also for the losses that the government had incurred.
He also bemoaned monopoly of business by some companies.
The AG said there were companies with different names that belonged to the same person and entered into multiple contracts with the government, a tendency that had to be dealt with to achieve equitable distribution of wealth in the country.
Information Minister Gospel Kazako said it remained the wish of the government that the cost of obtaining a passport should be reduced because it remains the highest as compared to other countries.