Government ready with urban emergency cash transfer


The government has announced that it is ready to disburse funds to small scale traders across the country as part of the Urban Emergency Cash Transfer programme aimed at cushioning them from economic shocks of the Covid pandemic.

In April last year, the government introduced the programme which would see a monthly payment of K35,000 to small businesses which were affected by restrictions to contain the pandemic.

The money would be disbursed through mobile money services to serve small-scale businesses in and around major markets in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Zomba, among others.


But, as of last week, only 30 percent of the targeted population of small-scale traders had turned up for KYC in councils.

Chief Economist in the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development Bessie Msusa said in an interview that the government will now start with those who availed themselves KYC.

“We should have started distributing the money through Airtel Money and Mpamba a long time ago, but only about 56,112 turned up, so we will soon start with these as we continue with the process (KYC) in councils,” Msusa said.


Msusa said the targeted traders would still be receiving the monthly sum of K35,000 based on the prevailing government minimum wage rate at the time the programme was being designed.

The minimum wage is now at K50, 000.

The programme was initiated to ensure that small-scale traders most of whom are women, recover from the economic shocks brought about by Covid and related restrictions, according to Msusa.

Government will target a minimum of 172,000 households to support Malawians who depend on the markets for their day to day survival.

In its ‘Inequality Report: The Inequality Virus’, charity Oxfam warned “We stand to witness the greatest rise in inequality since records began”.

The report noted that people such as shop assistants, healthcare workers and market vendors most of whom are women, continue to struggle to pay bills and put food on the table due to tough measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus.

“Women and the working poor are bearing the brunt of this crisis—they are likely to be pushed into poverty, more likely to go hungry and more likely to be excluded from health care.” noted Oxfam Malawi Governance Programme Manager Mathias Kafunda.

The report called for safety nets to cushion the poor from economic shocks brought about by the pandemic.

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