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Economic woes bother industry

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Economic challenges continue to stifle chances of growth of the local private sector in the short to medium-terms, and its input to the national economy, industry captains have lamented.

This was the general observation at a three-day inaugural business leaders’ summit hosted by private sector umbrella body, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), from Thursday last week in Mangochi.

The indaba, held under the theme ‘Drawing Lessons and Insights from the Covid Pandemic: Building a Resilient Economy’, attracted prominent businesspersons and managers from various sectors of the economy.

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Among other things, the players recommended intensified investment in sectors hard-hit by the pandemic while building resilience against other possible shocks in the foreseen future.

In her presentation, NBS Bank Deputy Chief Executive Officer Temwani Simwaka, who was one of the key speakers at the conference, said the industry, however, has a key role to play towards the recovery process.

“Some of the issues we talked about were around investing in people, in basic education and also in continuous development to make sure that our people are agile and that they are able to quickly deliver what is expected.

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“We also needed, as businesses, to invest more to continuously make the changes we need even without anticipation of another pandemic,” she said.

She said the Covid pandemic has since exposed the country’s inability to manage major economic crises, a thing that has aggravated its impact on the various sectors and the economy at large.

MCCCI immediate past president James Chimwaza said, largely, the industry holds solutions to the prevailing problems, hence the need for players to rise to the occasion and address the problems.

Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe graced the occasion and conceded that the impact of the pandemic and other external shocks to the economy remained severe.

He said the government was committed to providing necessary policy direction towards the recovery and growth of the economy.

“We have an economy which is failing to tick. So, the message to the business community is to find solutions to make sure that we join other countries in progressing. We have an economy to run,” Lowe said.

The International Monetary Fund last week slashed Malawi’s gross domestic product (GDP) projection by 0.8 percentage points from the 3.5 percent projected in December last year to 2.7 percent.

This is compared to a 4.1 percent GDP growth projection by the Treasury.

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