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Economy recovering, says Lazarus Chakwera

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WHAT’S ON OFFER?—Chakwera captured at one of the stands

President Lazarus Chakwera has said the local economy is on a recovery path, witnessed by investor confidence and realignment of various economic parameters.

Chakwera said this Thursday in Blantyre when he opened the 32nd Malawi International Trade Fair organised by the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), under the theme ‘Achieving Business Resilience through Market Diversity’.

The President said his administration is already undertaking various measures to pin down challenges facing the economy in sectors such as energy, transport and finance.

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“Malawi’s economy has been sick and bedridden for a long time. When I took office, the symptoms of our economy’s chronic illness and multiple organ failure were everywhere. Four million young people were unemployed and stampeding each other in the parking lot of any place offering a few jobs, businesses had been closing across our cities for many months, incomes for the lowest paid had been stagnant for years, while foreign direct investments into Malawi had been in recession just as long.

“We immediately started hooking up this patient to some drips and as the medicine of new economic policies, projects and programmes was making its way through the system, it has felt like nothing is changing.

“But we have refused to let that discourage us, because we knew that sooner than later, a period of true recovery would kick in and we would see the symptoms of sickness begin to subside one by one,” Chakwera said.

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He pointed out that heavy loss of trade has subsided owing to a robust pro-investment policy which saw the country succeeding in securing the largest investment deal at the recent Intra-African Trade Fair in South Africa.

The President also said the Presidential Delivery Unit has conducted a series of Private Sector Labs to hear about the obstacles that stand in the way of growth for businesses in order to ensure that the government lifts those barriers.

“Whether the barriers you face relate to tax or foreign exchange or exports or digitisation or access to energy or access to finance, my administration will not stop pushing until they are out of the way,” he said.

MCCCI president Lekani Katandula said Chakwera’s stance on economy recovering could be coming from a lot of development projects he is privileged to know are in the pipeline including the Kasiya rutile mine.

Katandula was, however, quick to mention that the private sector continues to be riddled with power outages, foreign exchange shortages and bureaucracies impinging local investors.

“So many power outages mean that a lot of industries are operating below capacity, so we are asking the government not just to invest in power generation themselves but also to make it easy for the private sector to invest in power generation so that together we can address this critical need.

“We are also asking the government to make sure that our exchange rates are reflective of market dynamics because when we keep the exchange rates in the official markets stronger than what the market is reflecting, the forex leaks to the informal markets, creating unnecessary shortages as we are experiencing now,” Katandula said.

He added that the government should consult further the private sector in reforms on land laws, the crops bill and the sugar bill which have suggestions that could deter foreign direct invest investment and discourage local investors.

The International Trade Fair has attracted participation from 198 exhibitors occupying 247 pavilions.

Out of these exhibitors, 182 are local and 16 are foreign with one exhibitor coming from Mozambique, 14 Small and Medium Enterprises exhibitors from Zimbabwe and the Indian High Commission.

The Tanzania Ports Authority is expected to arrive today to participate in the fair.

Out of the 182 local exhibitors, 15 companies are in real manufacturing while 54 are in semi-value addition processing and the rest are either in trading or service provision.

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