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Parliament to probe Escom operations

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Mark Botomani

Parliament Wednesday set up a special committee to undertake a comprehensive review of operations of the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom).

The ad hoc team comprises four committees of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Public Accounts, Legal Affairs and Trade.

The decision was arrived at after the House rejected a report that the Public Accounts Committee (Pac) presented last week on the wastage of public resources at Escom.

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The legislators were debating on matters that were not incorporated in the report which included issues of unbundling and power marketing, prompting Leader of the House Richard Chimwendo Banda to move a motion to form the joint committee.

“We cannot just discuss wastage of resources without discussing other institutions. We cannot be talking about Escom today, and later Escom of 2014. Malawians want to know what is happening today,” Chimwendo Banda said.

He added that the committee would also review the law that was passed in 2016 which supported the unbundling of Escom.

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“We are told Escom is paying K320 million to Power MarkLimited every month; what is that money for? Can’t that money be used for other investments within? We feel that all these matters need to be looked into comprehensively,” Chimwendo Banda said.

Pac Chairperson Mark Botomani welcomed the motion and indicated that the necessary issues would be incorporated into the report.

“The report could not cover the issue of unbundling because this was put in place in 2016 while our report concentrated on the wastage of public resources,” Botomani said.

The report is expected to be tabled in the next meeting of Parliament.

This week, Escom reported that it was making a K112 billion loss when buying power from Electricity Generation Company and other independent power producers.

Escom Chief Executive Officer Kamkwamba Kumwenda called for an increase in electricity tariffs to over K140 per kilowatt per hour if it is to sustain operations.

Meanwhile, the House has also rejected a report from the Legal Affairs Committee on the abolition of the death penalty following consultations with various stakeholders.

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