Debt relief, aid not solutions— Lazarus Chakwera
President Lazarus Chakwera has said debt relief, funding from development partners, donor aid for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or the government are not solutions to the country’s economic conundrum.
Chakwera said this in Lilongwe Wednesday, when he opened the 2023 tobacco marketing season.
He said the only sustainable solution to Malawi’s economy is productivity.
The President said Malawi cannot afford to sugarcoat the truth about what people in the country must do together to turn things around for the sake of economic survival.
“For example, funding from our development partners is a support structure, but it is not the solution to our problems. Whether that funding comes from our development partners in the West or our development partners in the East, and whether that funding comes in millions or billions, all it can achieve is to support us activate the real solution to our economic woes, but it can never be the solution itself.
“Another example is the situation with our mountain of debt, which my administration inherited on day one. We are engaging our lenders to support our efforts to activate the solution to our problems by either restructuring or cancelling our debt, but nobody here should think that getting this form of support is a substitute for the real solution to our structural economic challenges,” Chakwera said.
He added that another supporting structure that is worth mentioning is the aid that gets poured into Malawi from other nations and the hundreds of non-governmental organisations that aid supports.
Chakwera said the work that NGOs do soothes the economic wound that communities suffer, but that it will never be the solution or cure for the wound itself.
“The same goes for the government. Some people in government, and many people outside government, behave and talk as though government itself is the solution to Malawi’s economic sickness, but that is simply not the case.
“Government is a supporting structure for activating the solution to our economic sickness, but it is not the solution itself,” he said.
The Malawi leader said the country needs to increase the quantity, variety and the quality of what it produces to competitively generate revenue from global markets.
“It is that simple. Now to increase the quantity, the variety, and the quality of what we, as a country, produce, we have to do the work.
“No one is going to do that work for us. And, as I have stated previously, the primary and priority sectors in which we must work harder, smarter, and together to increase productivity are agriculture, tourism, and mining,” Chakwera said.
Malawi University of Business and Applied Studies Associate Professor of Economics Betchani Tchereni Wednesday hailed Chakwera for making such a bold pronunciation.
“The President is spot on— probably the first courageous statement he has made regarding the economy as head of State in Malawi.
Donations and dependence on donor partners come with conditions that are not palatable. We know what we need and want and, therefore, we are the people to do that. If we are going to get any debt, let it come for purposes of production and industrialisation,” Tchereni said.