Stakeholders are questioning the business model of Castel Malawi for failing to generate forex despite producing brands that could be easily exported.
The remarks follow Castel Malawi’s statement which has notified the public of an imminent shortage of Malawi Gin, Premier Brandy and Malawi Vodka due to forex scarcity.
“Castel Malawi has temporarily suspended the production of spirits due to the persistent shortage of forex in the country at the moment.
“The business is currently failing to bring in packaging materials to sustain the supply of these loved spirits brands” reads the statement in part.
The company also complained of high excise rates which spirits attract (110%) that are pushing the prices up, thus temporary suspension of production becomes the only decision at the moment.
However, Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences –MUBAS Economics Professor Betchani Tchereni notes that as a corporate member of the private sector, the company should be responsible of generating its forex through exports of its products.
Tchereni also described the decision as a sign of lack of patriotism as it has been made before exploring other alternatives.
“For a patriotic indigenous Malawian they would have said let’s look out for the best solution to continue with production so that there must be alternative with production because its jobs it’s about poverty alleviation among others.
“We are actually surprised that a company which is producing such products is closing because there is no foreign exchange, when one of their products is revered in other countries and I’m wondering why you can’t export to those countries,” Tchereni said.
In a separate interview, Minister of Trade and Industry Mark Katsonga Phiri said it is the responsibility of private sector players to generate forex by exporting some of their products.
“Companies have to strive to improve their forex generating activities. Malawi Gin is exportable and why should they rely on somebody else to generate forex for them?” Katsonga said.
Last year, Press Corporation Plc sold its 100 % equity in Castel to leave the French brewer attain complete ownership of the business.
Malawi Gin is one of the country’s most sought after product beyond the boarders.