Players in the construction industry have said they are interested in how on how Capital Hill will implement the development budget component of the 2018/19 financial plan.
This development comes as government owes players in the sector billions of kwacha for projects undertaken due to lack of financial resources.
According to industry captains, huge arrears in the sector forced the government to pay the players through coupons in 2014.
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe, last week presented the financial blueprint in Parliament where he indicated that the development budget has been increased to K391.7 billion, of which K69 billion will go towards road construction.
Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) Chairperson, Joe Ching’ani, said the development should translate into more infrastructure projects, which will lead to increased economic activity.
Ching’ani, who is also Malawi Building and Civil Engineering Contractors and Allied Trade Associations (Mabcata) immediate past President, said the jump in development budget would also signal more work for contractors, offer business opportunities to materials suppliers and employment.
“We should also go deep into the allocations to see how much, if anything, has been set aside for repayment of arrears to service providers, including contractors who provided a service but are still not paid till today.
“While a few major infrastructure projects have been cited, it remains to be seen as to how much of this cake will be enjoyed by local contractors. It was also interesting that the finance minister touched on the recently passed Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets law. This new legislation has a huge bearing on the procurement, award and implementation on construction works among other procurement implications. The construction fraternity is still watching cautiously,” Ching’ani said.
Mkaka Construction Managing Director, Newton Kambala, said failure by the government to pay industry players has chocked firms.
“There is a project where I was engaged as a subcontractor to Fargo, a project from four or five years ago. I was engaged in February, we have been asked to pull out from the site because there is no money. I have got a letter showing that the government has no money.
“As long as Malawi continues to do projects for political reasons, we will never develop. Projects should have value not just doing to impress people,” Kambala said.
He said that the 2018/19 budget has been formulated to fool Malawians between now and May 2019 and that those behind it do not care about the impact.
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