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Analysts rate first half as challenging

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Business and economic analysts have rated the first half (H1) of 2020 as challenging as the country faced the double impact of Covid-19 and fresh presidential elections.

Economics Association of Malawi president, Lauryn Nyasulu, and Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Director of Business Environment and Policy Advocacy, Madalisto Kazembe, told The Times Business yesterday that the period from January 1 to June 30, 2020 has been tough.

Nyasulu said a slowdown in business activities during the period exerted pressure on the fiscus.

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“It has been a challenging first half. There has been more strain on the fiscus as businesses slowed down due Covid-19, evidenced by declining revenues.

“With these challenges debt management has become increasingly important,” Nyasulu said.

On her part, Kazembe said the political uncertainty which characterised the second half of 2019 continued in the first half of 2020.

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“First half of 2020 was rather challenging for businesses. The political uncertainty that permeated the country since the 2019 tripartite elections coupled with the onset of Covid-19 significantly affected operations of most businesses.

Covid-19 continues to pose challenges especially since it has disrupted domestic, regional and internal supply chains making the business environment more unfavourable to operate in,” Kazembe said.

She added that the private sector continued operate in a hostile environment with chronic challenges such as unreliable supply of energy, high taxes and low access to finance.“The rest of year outlook seems to be uncertain since it’s hard to ascertain how long the Covid-19 pandemic will last. We are hopeful nonetheless of improvements in business operations since most countries are relaxing restrictions that were in place.

“Additionally we are optimistic of a more stable political environment now than the first half which was hit by court cases and demonstrations which disrupted business operations now that the elections have taken place,” Kazembe said.

Malawi went to the polls on June 23 in a fresh presidential election which saw the then opposition leader, Lazarus Chakwera, trouncing the then president Peter Mutharika by a wide margin.

Chakwera was sworn in as Malawi’s sixth president on June 29.

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