Speaking on Wednesday at Kanengo Auction Floors when he opened the 2016 tobacco selling season, President Mutharika did not mince words on an issue that has been contentious among stakeholders in the tobacco industry.
“Every year we always agree on pricing. And yet you always abandon our agreement. This year deliberately you were told to suggest the minimum prices yourself. I know you have the integrity and honesty to keep your own word. We respect you as investors and that you are important to our economy. But we will not respect any exploiters among you,” said President Mutharika adding, “Investing in a country is not exploiting the country.”
The Malawi further reiterated the need for all investors to abide to all financial laws of the land when handling profits made on Malawi soil and all matters relating to treatment of the local workforce.
“We understand the difficult international market forces you have to contend with. But we will neither understand nor forgive tax evasions. Tax evasion is criminal. Non-remittance of foreign exchange is criminal. Using bogus work permits to hijack Malawian jobs is criminal. Racism and segregating Malawians in the tobacco industry is simply unacceptable. This is Malawi,” he said.
Commenting on the needs for the country’s tobacco industry not to suffer, the President also issued advice to farmers to bring to the market a leaf that meets the standards of the industry to avoid rejection by buyers.
According to President Mutharika, this year’s leaf rejection is currently at 34 percent unlike last year at the same time when it stood at around 60 percent.
Another key area that needs to be addressed immediately is the use of irrigation in tobacco farming, a situation the President says will create more jobs in the industry and create value for the economy.
Speaking earlier, Tobacco Control Commission Chairperson, Inkosi Mbelwa IV asked government to facilitate the marketing system which many farmers say has brought in more exploitation of farmers in the industry.