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Tobacco Control Commission lobbies for passing of Tobacco Act

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Tobacco regulatory body, Tobacco Control Commission (TCC), says it is keeping its fingers crossed that Members of Parliament will pass the Tobacco Act and Control of Tobacco Auction Floors Act during the current meeting of Parliament.

The review of the two Acts will help the sector introduce provisions that will improve service delivery and the overall control and management of the tobacco industry in Malawi.

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Malawi iuses a 1938 tobacco Act.

Speaking in Lilongwe during a media interface, TCC Chief Executive Officer, Kaisi Sadala, said the Act is very important to the industry.

“This is a very important Act, which is currently on the floor of Parliament. We are hoping that any time now, probably this week, Members of Parliament will deliberate on it and we are also hopeful that it will be passed.

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“The ultimate target of the Act is to ensure that the grower is protected and never exploited and also that our crop integrity is also protected so that we are able to safeguard the market share for Malawi because if we do not do that, then we will have a problem,” he said.

Sadala said the Act will also regulate intermediate buying, as intermediate buyers normally spoil the market.

“Intermediate buyers are not growers, they do not know much about tobacco. They [intermediate buyers] just mix the tobacco anyhow, without looking at grade or quality. We need punitive measures in place to make sure that this stops,” Sadala said.

Stakeholders in the tobacco industry are also eager to see the Act tabled and passed.

The stakeholders say the Act will strengthen and transform the industry which remains crucial to the Malawi economy as it contributes about 30 percent of the country’s export earnings.

JTI Leaf Malawi said passing the Act would help safeguard their investments.

JTI said the legal framework guarding the sector does not support their operations model which makes it tough to maintain the relevance of the crop to the economy.

JTI Leaf Malawi Managing Director, Fries Vanneste, said his company and other tobacco buying companies would like to see Integrated Production System (IPS) being recognised in Malawi’s legislation.

“The country’s Tobacco Act was last amended in the 1970s and dates back to an era when sustainability, traceability or contract growing were not high on the agenda.

“With an updated Act in place, JTI trusts to see a more balanced supply and demand of tobacco, minimised fluctuations in tobacco leaf pricing and a greater stability for the future of tobacco farming in Malawi,” Vanneste said.

In an interview on Sunday, Agriculture Minister Joseph Mwanamvekha confirmed the two Acts will be presented and hopefully passed during this meeting.

“We are expecting the two Acts to start appearing in the Order Paper this week. If the new legislation will be enacted within this fiscal year, the new legal framework will be implemented immediately,” he said.

Mwanamvekha said the two Acts have comprehensively been reviewed and the main proposed changes include merging of the Tobacco Act and the Control of Tobacco Auction Floors Act to form a Tobacco Industry Bill.

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