The President's 'gift' to farmers of 1,000 tractors is not all it seems. It isn't the first public procurement problem to crop up
President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is in the midst of another big public spending row after making a supposedly personal gift of 1,000 tractors to rural communities, just in time for the next farming season. Although this was presented as presidential charity, the tractors were bought with public money. There is disquiet about the deal.
Originally announced in May and officially approved by ministers on 29 July, the tractor deal is due to be implemented over the coming months. Only 200 of the tractors are being acquired from Mali-Tracteurs, an Indian-led joint-venture assembly plant at Samanko, near Bamako. The rest are being bought from Toguna Agro-Industries, a company whose main activity hitherto has been the supply of agricultural inputs such as seeds and fertiliser. Toguna, however, is run by the influential entrepreneur Seydou Nantoumé. Toguna is importing 800 Chinese 50-horsepower Foton tractors. The deal not only appears to undermine the very logic of Mali assembling tractors but some observers believe the Fotons are also unsuited to Malian conditions.
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