By Solister Mogha, MANA
Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Mining, Welani Chilenga on Saturday said government is planning to reduce prices of timber and stop its exportation.
Chilenga made the revelation in reaction to concerns from some Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Mining during a meeting at Sunbird Ku Chawe Inn in Zomba.
He said it was sad that the price of timber was three times higher than that of iron sheets; thereby, making it hard for Malawians to afford the product.
Chilenga said by next week, the Ministry would inform the public on the way forward especially on steps taken to ensure the price of timber is reduced.
“Members expressed dissatisfaction with the prices of timber on the local market and we find this concern very genuine and something needs to be done about it,” he said.
“The first step is to stop exportation of these planks to meet local demand.
“It doesn’t make sense that people should be importing steel metal to use for construction projects just because timber, which is a locally produced product is exorbitant,” he added.
Chairperson for the Committee, Halima Daudi hailed government for the decision, which, she said — apart from rescuing Malawians — would save forex that the country loses when importing steel metal.
Daudi appealed to government to consider Malawians first before considering outside markets.
“If as a country we are able to export timber, why then should the same product be scarce and at the same time be very expensive. Our thinking is that let us satisfy local demand and thereafter, move out.
“We should, however, commend government for the decision to reduce the prices and also stop exportation of timber,” she said.
Daudi, therefore, assured that the committee would continue supporting government in ensuring that the plan is executed perfectly and to the satisfaction of all Malawians.
During the meeting organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Mining, the Parliamentarians were briefed on a number of issues including budget allocation for the 2020/21 financial year, challenges the ministry and its departments are facing and strides made over the years.