Government has apologised to Malawians for selling 177 tractors which were bought using a US$50 million (about K37 billion) loan from India.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD) issued the apology through a statement dated July 9th signed by its principal secretary Gray Nyandule Phiri.
“The MoAIWD would like to admit to have failed to conduct a proper needs assessment in the beneficiary institutions to guide what equipment should be procured using the loan. We were at fault, and sincerely apologise for the irregular procurement and disposal of the equipment,” the ministry said.
In 2011, Government used a $50,000,000 loan from Export-Import Bank of India to buy 177 tractors to be used by smallholder farmers.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, while purchasing the equipment the ministry failed to pay particular technical attention to the technology of the equipment, resulting into the purchase of equipment with archaic technology.
“Having realised that it would be highly costly for the Government to maintain the equipment, especially the tractors, a resolution was made to dispose most of the equipment to private individuals and farmers at less their purchase price and on loan basis,” the ministry said in its statement.
However, in report titled “The Present Toiling, The Future Overburdened” released in 2016, the Ombudsman faulted the entire process of procurement and subsequent disposal of the equipment as both illegal and irregular.
The Ombudsman ordered the Malawi Government to apologise to the nation for acting contrary to the requirements of the laws and codes of conduct regarding procurement and disposal of the equipment.
In the statement this week, the Ministry of Agriculture said in future it will ensure compliance with laws governing Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets.