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Lockdown irks SMEs

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Tuesday’s announcement of a 21-day lockdown in the country has irked the Chamber for Small and Medium Businesses and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Malawi who say the move would have a knock down effect on SMEs.

Reacting to the news Wednesday, the SMEs chamber Executive Secretary, James Chiutsi, said the lockdown effects would be worse than the coronavirus impact.

“The lockdown should be worse than the problem it is trying to address. There is no point in saving lives from Covid-19, only to lose same lives to hunger.

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“We have several SMEs who live hand to mouth; they can barely survive two days without plying their trade,” Chiutsi said.

Chiutsi added that the government should borrow a leaf from neighboring Tanzania where the government has not placed a lockdown, but enhanced border security and beef up testing and other medical services.

National Association of SMEs president, William Mwale, said the lockdown would have devastating effects on businesses.

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“Much as we would want to prevent deaths, we would also want to survive. Therefore, the government should think more of SMEs who operate on hand to mouth basis.

“The government should just put strict measures in borders but the domestic trade should be normal and making sure that the preventing measures are being adhered to” Mwale expressed worry.

Announcing the lockdown, Minister of Health Jappie Mhango, said all central markets will be closed and non-essential businesses or services will be suspended.

In an earlier interview, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Chief Executive Officer, Chancellor Kaferapanjira, warned that any move to lockdown the country as a way of preventing the coronavirus pandemic could have devastating consequences of the lives of the poorest of the poor Malawians.

Kaferapanjira said it is common knowledge that any planned lockdown will rock down any kind of business in Malawi’s very small economy, and certainly employees.

The MCCCI Chief said in an economy which is very minute and, therefore, highly dependent on other countries even for basic food stuffs, a lockdown spells doom.

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