THE Barotse Royal Establishment has objected to the Ministry of Finance funding Nandusu Co-operative Society to develop a cashew plantation scheme in Western Province because the co-operative has not been prudent in the use of such funds.
Western Province minister Poniso Njeulu said yesterday he had received reports that the BRE was uncomfortable with the Government’s decision to fund the co-operative because committee members had continued to acquire funds from donors for cashew nut production which they squandered.
‘‘The BRE raised a concern because they are not comfortable with the Nandusu Cooperative receiving the money from the ministry because they have continued to get funds from donors for the same cashew nut production,’’ he said.
He said the BRE had complained that there were a few members in the co-operative who were extravagant and had continued to pocket money that well-wishers had injected in the development of the cash crop.
Mr Njeulu said the members of Nandusu had received a loan from Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and other donors which they did not use for the intended purposes.
‘‘They are saying they had gotten money from a certain donor and again they got another loan from CEC and had done nothing; this is the third time they are receiving money for the same purpose,’’ the minister said.
He also explained that due to the doubts of the credibility and transparency of the cooperative the Government might channel the money through the provincial administration office.
He explained that the administration office would then ensure that the money was monitored and used for the intend purpose.
Mr Njeulu said he was not sure when the Government would release the K5.5 million which Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda signed with Nandusu Co-operative recently.
‘‘The money is most likely to be given to the provincial administration office where it can be monitored although I have no information of when the ministry will release the money. I will have to get back to the permanent secretary in the ministry,’’ Mr Njeulu said.
He said he was optimistic that if well managed cashew production could amass a lot of money to the country and create employment for many people.
The minister said it was encouraging to note that a kilogramme of cashew nut was twice the price of a tonne of copper on the international market.
He said the province was endowed with sandy soils which were favourable to cashew nut growing.
‘‘The information that a kilogramme of cashew nut costs twice the price of a tonne of copper on the international market is encouraging and we are advantaged with sand which the cashew nut responds well to,’’ he said.