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Parliament to probe Fisp

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After successfully probing the maize deal, the joint parliamentary committee now wants to zero in on the alleged dubious award of contracts to some companies including Transglobe Limited, to supply Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) material in the 2016/17 season.

Co-Chairperson of the committee, Joseph Chidanti-Malunga, disclosed in an exclusive interview yesterday that the committee has received complaints from the public that some senior officials at the Ministry of Agriculture influenced single sourcing of the suppliers.

The local firm Transglobe Limited is embroiled in the maize deal and according to findings by both commission of inquiry instituted by President Peter Mutharika and the joint parliamentary committee, embattled Minister of Agriculture, George Chaponda, dealings with the company was “most inappropriate, suspicious and raising issues of corrupt practices”.

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Among the 27 companies on the list of suppliers are those that are allegedly owned by some officials serving in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) according to Chidanti- Malunga, a development he described as worrisome and unfortunate.

“Once this Maizegate report gets adopted, we should immediately go into Fispgate. We are concerned about overwhelming complaints from the general public in the manner in which this year’s Fisp programme has been handled, especially the way contracts have been awarded,” he said.

Chidanti-Malunga added that the mysterious fire that razed down Chaponda’s offices at Capital Hill last week has also raised suspicions among members of the committee as to whether the inferno was not a deliberate act to destroy important information of some shady dealings at the ministry.

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Interestingly, some companies dealing in computers and vehicle logistics appear on the list of those to supply 54,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser, raising suspicions as to whether the programme will yield its intended results.

In a letter of submission, dated September 8, 2016 Reference Number ODPI/03/72 addressed to Chief Executive Officer of Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM), government informed the company that it had granted a no objection for the procurement of the commodity.

Among the 27 dealers selected are Computer Systems Malawi Limited, which is to supply 1,000 tonnes valued at K3 billion and Network Print and Vehicle Logistics Limited also to supply 1,000 tonnes for the same value. ETG Inputs Limited, Mulli Brothers Limited, Transglobe Produce Export Limited, Astro Chemicals, MAS International and Gasom

In an earlier interview, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Hamilton Chimala, defended the arrangement, arguing that supply of fertiliser is not a technical job and that all selected firms were vetted by the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP).

Chimala argued that most of the commercial players selected have the fertiliser in stock across selling points, adding that the ministry is on schedule for a successful Fisp which is now 60 percent private sector-managed.

“Fertiliser is a trade commodity meaning a bid to supply such a commodity is evaluated based on bidder technical and financial submissions. All selected firms demonstrated that capacity after a thorough and rigorous process,” Chimala told this paper.

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