The Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture says it is ready to discuss the new Tobacco Bill in the next meeting of Parliament after finalising consultations with relevant tobacco stakeholders, including growers.
In an interview on Monday, the committee’s chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said all is set to have the bill tabled during the November meeting.
“We did consultations with what we believe are key stakeholders in this bill and all the preparations towards the same have been done. I would say 99. 9 percent of the preparations towards the bill have been done,” he said.
In October 2018, some tobacco growers expressed concerns about the new Tobacco Bill, arguing it had some shortfalls.
Commenting on the consultations by the parliamentary committee, Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) chief executive officer Felix Thole expressed satisfaction with the whole process.
“There was an appeal to consult stakeholders such as buying companies, the association, including individual farmers. They actually went out to meet some farmers and Tama was one of those stakeholders consulted.
“So, I think they have done thorough consultations on the new bill,” he said.
In response to the concerns by some tobacco growers that the bill is promoting Integrated Production System (IPS) compared to auction system, Thole said the farmers are aware of the two systems.
IPS is a production model that involves establishment of contractual obligations between growers and merchants for the production and marketing of tobacco in a sustainable manner. The model was introduced in the 2012/13 season as part of a tobacco industry wide production approach to improve tobacco yields, quality and control supply in relation to global requirements.
The Tobacco Control Commission earlier said the new bill lobbies issues of tobacco smuggling and the protection of the tobacco growers.
If passed, the new bill will replace the 1970 Tobacco Act which is outdated and has penalties whose value does not much the current economic situation.