Sam Kawale justifies Tobacco Commission’s poor rating
Minister of Agriculture Sam Kawale has blamed the poor performance of Tobacco Commission (TC) on bad weather.
During the signing of the 2023-24 Shareholders Letters of Expectations with the country’s 72 State- Owned Enterprises (SOEs), Minister of Finance Sosten Gwengwe singled out TC as the worst-performing SOE in the regulatory sector.
However, in an interview Wednesday, on the sidelines of the official opening of the tobacco market at Mzuzu Floors, Kawale said the view by many is that TC’s reported poor performance is largely due to poor administration.
He pointed out that the 2021-22 growing season was faced by inadequate rainfall, a situation which he said affected the tobacco sector.
“Every institution has key performance indicators that are supposed to be followed and the biggest one for [TC] has to do with how much have they managed to remit or contribute towards the economy of this country.
“Now, [TC] deals with tobacco and you know that the past year was not a good year for the tobacco market. But it was not their fault; the management was very good, the corporate governance was very good, the running of the institution was very good but the actual reason had to do with the production volumes and how much money came,” Kawale said.
He further said that rains came late and stopped early, meaning volumes that were required to be produced and sold on the tobacco market were low.
TC Chief Executive Officer Joseph Chidanti Malunga had also disputed the ranking of his organisation as the worst regulator.
He said last year, instead of having 125 million kilogrammes (kg) of tobacco, the country ended up with 85 million kg because the weather was not favourable.
“The second factor is that the financial year changed from 12 months to nine months. Rather, the beginning of the financial year changed. Therefore, the previous year ended with nine months.
“The cut-off point was March and by March, we had not started making income yet. We open the market around April. So when they had cut off the financial year, it meant that we were still not in the income-generating period,” Chidanti Malunga had said in an earlier interview.
In the 2022-23 tobacco selling season, demand for the leaf is at 170 million kg against the 126 million kg expected to be on the market.
This far, about 24 million kg have already been sold since the opening of the market on April 12, 2023.