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Bankers see tough future for economy

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The Bankers Association of Malawi (Bam) says it expects the next 12 months to be challenging for the local economy given the unpredictable climatic changes that threaten the food situation in the country.

Bam president Misheck Esau was speaking in Blantyre during the association’s annual dinner held under the theme, ‘Bankers and Leadership: Stability of Financial System’.

Esau expressed hope that government will implement various initiatives to stabilise the economy.

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“These include the current coordinated policy measures such as fiscal policies aimed at maintaining macroeconomic stability while boosting broad based growth. The business environment will continue to be tough and uncertain in the short term.

“We remain hopeful that our strategies together with the leadership in the sector put in place shall contain any adverse effects and eventually continue to stabilise the financial system,” said Esau.

He noted that in the next few months, the bankers will take advantage of any opportunity that may arise in this volatile business environment to serve customers better.

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“Focus on our customer’s needs will remain an area of our interest while, at the same time, we run the banking business in an efficient and innovative manner.

“We remain thankful to the Reserve Bank of Malawi for its continued efforts to spearhead various regulatory reforms with an aim of reducing the cost of doing business and promoting competition. These reforms combined with other ongoing reforms by the government will drastically reduce the cost of doing business and this should translate into a lower cost of credit,” said Esau.

Looking ahead on monetary policy, Esau said one of the bankers’ priorities is to contribute to the reduction of interest rates so that the economic growth is achieved.

“This will ensure the stability of the financial system. The banking sector will continue with its regular interactions with the Reserve Bank of Malawi and other key stakeholders to enhance the effectiveness of the transmission mechanism of monetary policy and other policy actions,” he said.

He noted that, in many ways, the past 12 months have been challenging to the banking sector given the global and domestic shocks hitting our economy.

“The characteristic supply shocks like the kwacha devaluation, fuel prices among others continue to threaten both domestic prices and output. Despite the shocks hitting the economy and putting us on a tight rope, the banking sector has remained resilient and is expected to register a modest growth.

“Ideally, the performance of the banking sector during the first two quarters met many of the expectations for several reasons, but mostly, I believe, because of the strategic leadership that is in the sector,” said Esau.

In his address, RBM governor Charles Chuka underscored the importance of quality leadership in the development of the financial sector.

He hailed President Peter Mutharika for taking a bold step to allow the sale of majority stakes in two government banks namely Malawi Savings Bank and Indebank.

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