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Questions over government shares in Malawian Airlines

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Member of Parliament (MP) for Nkhata Bay Central, Raphael Mhone, has taken Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, to task over what the lawmaker says is government’s failure to honour its shareholding obligations in Malawian Airlines.

Raising a question under Standing Order 69 of Parliament, Mhone said the government owns 51 percent in the Airlines which Ethiopian Airlines manages under Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

“Malawi government is failing to honour its part in the deal. What does government want the private sector to think about these partnerships?” Mhone said.

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However, Gondwe said the government has met its obligations, not only in terms of cash but also space for operations.

“I was even talking to their Chief Executive Officer, who is an Ethiopian, on the phone this morning and he says Malawi government does not owe them anything,” Gondwe said.

He, however, said the Malawian Airlines boss told him that the airline needs cheap fuel and funds for other two aeroplanes to expand its coverage.

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But Mhone said the PPP commission already told the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions that government has not honoured its obligations.

“If he says government has honoured [its obligations], can he show us the shareholder certificate,” Mhone said.

Mhone’s insistence seemed to have infuriated Gondwe who wanted to know why Mhone thinks he has more information than him.

Gondwe also told Lilongwe Mapuyu South MP, Joseph Njobvuyalema, off for saying Parliament is not a place of phone call responses.

Lilongwe Mpenu Nkhoma MP, Watson Makala Ngozo, however, said the issue involves partnership between a government that belongs to people, saying such people have a right to know the status of the partnership.

“This far, how far do we know that this partnership is yielding anything. We need reports on this partnership in this house,” Makala Ngozo said.

The Finance Minister said he would source reports on the partnership.

Rumphi Central lawmaker, Enock Chihana, asked Gondwe to say whether the airline is operating on any profits or not.

Gondwe responded by saying, in reference to the phone conversation with the Malawian Airlines boss, the company was doing well but said he did not know how much profits the airline is making.

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