By Antony Isaiah Jr:….
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) said they will start investigations on the trending Fertilizer deal between the Ministry of Agriculture and the United Kingdom company, Barkaar Foods Limited.
The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation accused the Ministry of Agriculture of letting down the nation on food security by keeping keeping the lid tight on implementation status of this year’s Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).
Food security and this year’s AIP, committee chairperson Sameer Suleman made the allegations that the government has lot K30 Billion on the fertilizer deal.
He said, “What we know is that K30 billion has gone missing. What we also know is that the country does not have a single bag of fertiliser yet.
“And when we question, unfortunately, the ministry has decided not to give any answers. So, we are left to speculate and believe the rumours that are coming out.”
On Thursday, the Ministry of Agriculture through the Secretary for Agriculture, Sandra Mweru dismissed the allegations saying only K750 Million is the money that the government has lost on the deal.
“SFFRFM was requested to pay a commitment fee amounting to USD727,000 which is about MWK750 million to lock the price, which was remitted through Ecobank.
“Barkaar Foods Limited failed to supply and consequently ferminated the contract citing loss of the production line at Yara UK and that they could no longer commit to supply the fertiliser and the greed to transfer the fee back to SFFRFM through the same Ecobank,” adds the statement.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition had since urged the State President, Dr Lazarus Chakwera and the Anti-Corruption Bureau to act on the allegations.
Anti-Corruption Bureau has responded positively to HRDC’s call saying they have recorded the case and they will have a look into it.
Despite the law demanding the vetting of all high-values procurement contracts shall to be subject to vetting by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, according to section 37 (11) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act, the deal was made without the consent of ACB.
The Bureau’s Principal Public Relations Officer, Egrita Ndala said Anti-Corruption Bureau will assign a team to look into the matter.
“The bureau has interest in the issue [of the procurement of fertiliser] and has since recorded a complaint. It will he reviewed as is the procedure to ascertain if there is merit to warrant the Bureau’s action according to Law,” said Ndala.