The Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) has said investors contracted to provide student accommodation in the country’s public universities to ease accommodation woes want tax waivers for building materials.
The contractors, Old Mutual Investment Group and M & M Consortium, have been framed on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) protocol, for a period of 35 years.
Old Mutual Investment Group has been allocated lots at Luanar-Bunda Campus in Lilongwe and College of Medicine in Lilongwe.
M & M Consortium on the other hand has been allocated lots at The Polytechnic in Blantyre, Luanar-Natural Resources College in Lilongwe, Chancellor College in Zomba, Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) in Thyolo and Mzuzu University (Mzuni).
In an interview on the sidelines of the press conference to give an update on the university student’s accommodation on Tuesday in Blantyre, PPPC chief executive officer Jimmy Lipunga said while costs for the construction are yet to be established, introducing tax waivers would mean reduced rental for the students.
“They [contractors] are not necessarily demanding waivers as a condition for this project. They are simply saying, if you were to accommodate duty waivers on materials, student accommodation rentals would go down.
“So, the choice ultimately would be on government whether to accept higher rentals with taxes or to consider waiving some of the taxes for purposes of reducing rentals for students,” he said.
Lipunga explained that the projects were structured in a way that upon being awarded, they will engage consultants and contractors for them to come up with firm estimates.
“It was not possible for them to commit expensive consultants before being assured of a contract. Therefore, the contract gives them space to firm up their numbers, so we will come up to the public once this is known,” he said.
Through the project, government will increase admissions to public universities against the backdrop of a significant number of eligible students failing to get into tertiary education due to shortage of bed space.
The project also comes amid challenges of accommodation in public universities, most notably at Luanar, Mzuni and Must.
In an earlier interview, an official from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology was upbeat that this initiative would fill accommodation gaps in the country’s public universities after government increased student intake over three years ago, on arrangement that some live off campus. n