BY BLAIR MHONE
Minister of Mining Dr. Albert Mbawala says the Government is establishing the Mining Regulatory Authority in order to regulate and bring sanity in the mining sector.
The minister was speaking at a Government Faces the Press event this morning held at the Central Office of Information (COI) in Lilongwe where he was accompanied by Minister of Information Gospel Kazako to unpack the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on matters related to mining.
The mining sector has in the recent past been embroiled in alleged corrupt practices as well as smuggling of minerals by foreign nationals.
In his address, Mbawala said mining, if fully developed, has potential to contribute to about 20 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but it is currently only contributing one percent of the country’s GDP.
He said mining is one of the areas from which the country can diversify its economy and bringing the Mining regulatory authority will help boost the mining sector which in line with the MW2063, has been set as a priority that would diversify the economy and change the country’s economic landscape.
“The Mining Regulatory Authority Bill is already with the Minister of Justice before it is brought to Parliament in order for it to be established,” said Mbawala.
He also disclosed that the government is establishing a mining company and the ministry is awaiting for the Ministry of Finance to give funding amounting to about K5 billion for it to be operational.
Responding to questions from reporters about inequalities in the mining sector as well smuggling of minerals, Dr. Mbawala said support is being given to mining cooperatives for them to be registered.
“That is why we are registering them, so that the sector is easy to regulate and the coming in of the Reserve bank of Malawi as a buyer of minerals like Gold has also added to reduced cases of smuggling minerals for better prices elsewhere,” he said.
On his part, minister of information Gospel Kazako reiterated government’s strategy and commitment in the 60% threshold of business opportunities being reserved for Malawians in all sectors including mining.
He has since called on procurement officers in all government departments to give business opportunities to deserving Malawian small and medium enterprises as per government requirements in order to reduce inequalities in wealth creation.
“People responsible for government procurement should have a patriotic spirit by giving business opportunities to deserving businesses and SMEs. Opportunities should not be enjoyed by few rich people and businesses but wealth should be shared amongst all Malawian owned businesses including in the mining sector,” said the minister.
Meanwhile Kazako also responded to questions about the removal of VAT from cooking oil in the just presented national budget for 2022-2023 in relation to the commodity’s prices.
He said: “VAT was removed on cooking oil after producers said the introduction of the tax was the reason behind skyrocketing prices, we are now surprised that these producers are now giving other reasons.
“Now it clearly shows that the producers are playing tricks with Malawians, this development might now prompt the government to go back to when it had its own cooking oil producing company. If prices do not go down, Malawians need to hold these producers accountable because the government has responded to their demands by removing VAT.”