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Economic zones seen delaying

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Commencement of projects under special economic zones in the country might take a little longer The Daily Times has learnt.

The zones are portions of land set aside in some parts of the country for specifically targeted economic activities and supported through special arrangements.

Minister of Industry Roy Kachale said a Special Economic Zones Draft Bill was being vetted at the Ministry of Justice.

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Kachale, was however upbeat that the bill would be ready for tabling in the next Parliament meeting.

“We are still waiting for the Ministry of Justice to finish vetting the bill and we are hopeful that, during the November meeting, we should be able to table it in Parliament and have it passed.

“We have been allocated K2 billion for that exercise but that’s not going to be enough; so, we are working with other parties such as the EDF [Export Development Fund] to craft an instrument,” Kachale said.

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Kachale said, already, the government has secured land which it has paid for in Area 55 in Lilongwe, Dunduzu in Mzuzu and Chigumula in Blantyre.

Another portion of land has been secured at Matindi in Blantyre but the government was yet to settle for it.

He said the ministry was still conducting feasibility studies while putting up proposals for the Area 55 and Chigumula projects which would require identifying financiers.

Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pilirani Masanjala said his ministry was working with the Trade Ministry on finer details of the proposed law.

The project is estimated at $1.4 billion (about K1.1 trillion) and, when materialises, it would help facelift the local industry.

A recent study by the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry revealed that the manufacturing sector’s contribution to gross domestic products shrank by eight percentage points to 9.1 percent between 1994 and 2019.

The study notes that the onset of poor performance in the sector is concurrent with the period in which the country’s trade regime was made more liberal and the period in which crowding out of public sector investment in the manufacturing industry took effect.

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