By Kondwani Magombo:
Malawi Vice-President, Dr. Saulos Chilima, Thursday outlined government’s plans to stimulate and heal the economy following the negative impact of COVID-19 on various sectors.
Chilima, who graced the Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) Annual Conference in Mangochi, noted that COVID-19 has hit various sectors so hard that the projected 5.5 per cent economic growth for the year 2020 has now been lowered to 1.2 per cent.
He said there’s need to rejuvenate the private sector by clearing arrears to the private sector, and to arrest growth in public debt stock.
“Public sector payment arrears known to treasury are roughly about K250 billion. These arrears
emanate from unpaid water bills by ministries and department agencies; compensations arising from court cases; unpaid roads construction works and other suppliers who provided goods and services to government,” said Chilima.
“Although government does not have resources for a post-COVID-19 stimulus package, this administration recognises that we can and should rejuvenate the economy through the private sector by clearing the arrears.
“This injection will both relieve liquidity constraints that companies are facing and also jump-start the economy,” he added.
The Vice-President also stressed on the need to transform agriculture as the first natural step for Malawi to become an industrialised middle income country.
He said government is committed to the creating of mega farms and anchor farms that will spur integrated rural development as well as agricultural productivity.
Chilima further called on the conference to draw solutions that will help stimulate the economic growth of the country.
“Malawi has been in this state for far too long, but things don’t have to be this way. …I therefore, want to challenge this conference to come up with practical solutions that will transform the economy to a more sustainable and resilient structure,” he said.
Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for ECAMA, Dr. Wilson Banda, concurred with Chilima on the negative impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy but he expressed hope for a possible turnaround.
Banda noted that despite COVID-19, output from agriculture, the Malawi’s economic backbone, remained strong and that this made the country’s inflation rates come down.
ECAMA President, Laury Nyasulu, described the conference as an opportunity for economists to
put heads together and find solutions for the challenges facing the country’s economy.
She added that the discussions at the conference would centre on identifying opportunities for growth by looking beyond just agriculture, and also identifying possible reforms that government can implement to spur the economy.
Malawi News Agency-MANA