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Reserve Bank of Malawi gets tough

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The Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) on Friday launched an ambitious 2018 strategic plan that, among other things, aims to curb plunder of public resources and grow the economy.
RBM Governor, Dalitso Kabambe, has since warned directors of the bank that they will face the exit door if they fail to implement the strategy.
During the launch, all RBM directors took turns to sign contracts as commitment to achieve the set plans.
The climax of the launch was when the bank unveiled the High Value Alert System (HVAS) for government transactions above K50 million.
The system is designed to notify finance ministers, controlling officers of government ministries and the central treasury, of any government transaction through short message service (SMS) and emails.
Kabambe, who is also RBM Chairman, stressed that the move would assist to counter theft of public resources where junior staff would complete transactions without the knowledge of controlling officers and other senior officials witnessed in the 2013 Cashgate.
“The Reserve Bank has decided to make a contribution in the fight against plunder of public resources by introducing this system.
“The bank has partnered the National Technology Limited (Nitel) to generate an automatic email and SMS alert system for all government transactions, K50 million and above, which will be sent to the minister of finance, secretary to the Treasury, the Accountant General, the budget director, the minister responsible for the specific ministry, department or agency where the transaction originated, the controlling officers responsible and the director of finance in that MDA [Ministries, Departments and Agencies],” Kabambe said.
He indicated that the alert messages will be automatically generated and circulated within two minutes of transaction so that if there is any problem it could be reversed to avoid pilferage of public resources.
The other milestone RBM has set out to achieve in the year is generating an extra $600 million in export earnings to ensure that official foreign reserves are above three months of import cover throughout the year.
The bank also aims to increase diaspora remittances from $38 million to $200 million, increase the number of listed companies on the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) by at least five companies in partnership with MSE, list seven public and three private bonds on the market.
Kabambe also challenged RBM directors to increase the number of bank accounts from 1.3 million to two million during the year.
Asked on whether political interference would not frustrate the efforts of the central bank in checking theft of public funds, Kabambe pointed out that the main reason is to make top government officials aware of any government transactions.

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