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Price restrictions on maize would be 'difficult'- Mutharika, Economists

Private traders in a liberalised economy are free to charge as they can Private traders in a liberalised economy are free to charge as they can
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President Mutharika is dismissing calls for a price restriction to be placed on maize, arguing the move would not work in a liberalized market.

There have been growing calls from the public and other stakeholders that the government put controls on the price of the commodity, which private traders are selling at high prices.

A 50 Kilogram bag is currently being sold at prices ranging from K15, 000 to K20, 000.

Most consumers are struggling to buy at these prices since the cheaper grain is not readily available in ADMARC depots.

Speaking through his Press Secretary, Mutharika maintains that ADMARC still has enough stock of maize.

“There is enough maize to take the country through the lean period”, said Gerald Viola, “but the problem is that corruption is still there in these ADMARC depots with vendors still conniving with some officials.”

Cases are still being registered where some ADMARC officials are involved in these corrupt acts which deprive poor people of the cheaper grain.

Economists, however, believe increasing the supply of maize in ADMARC depots would be the most effective way of ensuring that the local consumer is not burdened by high prices on the parallel market.

The president of the Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) referred to the current situation as an application of the rules of demand and supply.

Henry Kachaje indicated: “The private traders know that there is no maize in the depots so they bring out their own. Since we are in a liberalized economy, everybody is free to charge as they want.”

Meanwhile, President Mutharika is again planning to address the nation on what mechanisms his government is putting in place to address the issue.

Most people continue to scramble for the grain at the depots with some still not able to acquire it and being forced to acquire it at high prices from the parallel market.

This is despite parliament, in the last sitting, approving 15 billion kwacha for the purchase of maize.

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