The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) says a rejig of economic development structures would help towards addressing challenges the country has been facing.
In an interview last week, MCCCI President Lekani Katandula said the country also needs to find lasting remedies to challenges such as intermittent power supply and forex scarcity, which are stifling productivity.
Katundula said if not addressed, the situation will likely continue to hurt import-dependent businesses and individuals whose consumption baskets are full of imports.
“It must be noted that the government’s role should be to put in place necessary enablers for entrepreneurs and businesses to translate opportunities into reality. There is no point in feeling sorry for ourselves or, indeed, blaming businesses for rising prices or government for shortage of forex for, as we know, government does not generate forex.
“The manufacturing sector will thrive without major challenges if it exports more and reduces imports. Companies that import most or all of their inputs will experience shrinking market because their products will become expensive due to inputs imported using devalued Kwacha,” Katundula said.
He said the country needs to move towards operationalising the import substitution agenda to mitigate the problems.
In a separate interview, SME Chamber Executive Director James Chiutsi said small and medium-scale entrepreneurs have been greatly affected by recent economic woes.
“For example, the recent devaluation of the Kwacha has seen prices going up and that has made prices among SMEs uncompetitive because if they import raw materials they pass on the cost to consumers. Further, persistent power outages are making life of the entrepreneur difficult.
“We need support from development banks that would lend us money to support our businesses and offer enough time before we start repaying that money, unlike the trend with commercial banks. So, the other lending institutions available in the country, such as the Malawi Agriculture and Industry Investment Corporation, the National Economic Empowerment Fund and others, should flex their muscle,” Chiutsi said.
Recently the government announced austerity measures as a step towards addressing challenges facing the economy.