The private sector and industry players in general are expressing mixed reactions to President Lazarus Chakwera’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Parliament last Friday.
In its reaction to the Sona, the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), said by undertaking to provide predictability based on strong institutional foundation, the business community will have confidence and trust in the government to invest long term and expand their businesses.
They indicate that policy inconsistencies have been among the top obstacles of doing business in the country.
In an interview MCCCI Chief Executive Officer, Chancellor Kaferapanjira, said the inconsistent policies have resulted in private sector being hesitant to invest in Malawi as they are not sure whether the policy would remain the same.
“This is clearly obvious when one sees that the fastest growing sector of the Malawi economy is trading comprising retail and wholesale, which is short term investment. Shops and filling stations are springing up everywhere, filled with imported goods of course. This is not what Malawi needs.
“By undertaking to provide predictability based on strong institutional foundation, we believe that our members will have confidence and trust in government to invest long term and expand their businesses. This is what is going to progress the Malawi economy, generating a lot of employment in the process,” Kaferapanjira said.
He added that, in the Sona, Chakwera also clearly detests the government practice of accruing arrears owed to private sector.
The industry chief says in a country where the cost of money is still quite high, government has been in the habit of worsening the private sector’s cash flow position.
However, in its reaction to the Sona, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi (Icam) said there is more that the government needs to focus on.
For example, on the independence and adequate budgetary allocation to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Icam believes that there is need to ensure that other governance institutions such as the National Audit Office, Office of the Ombudsman and Judiciary are fully resourced.
“The National Audit Office and Office of the Ombudsman provide checks and balances which are very important in ensuring that public resources are out to good use. Adequate funding to the ACB means that the bureau will investigate and conclude all outstanding cases in good time,” reads the statement from Icam.
Its Chief Executive Officer, Francis Gondwe, added that financial discipline is required in the public service more so enhancement of voucher verification exercise.
“Government should introduce Internal Audit Committees in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs). Register all accountants with Icam so that they are regulated or disciplined when they misbehave, transferring them to another location is not the solution.
“Upgrade through Staff Development Institute all accountants who do not possess a Diploma,” Gondwe said.
Speaking when he delivered the Sona, Chakwera said Malawi needs to start moving towards industrialising itself for it to become a middle-income country by 2063.
He said industry conveys a lot of spillovers including providing links to other sectors of the economy such as agriculture.
“My Administration will emphasise manufacturing as a base for transformation and creation of employment. I recently created a separate Ministry for Industry to lead Malawi’s industrialisation efforts.
“Some of the specific projects designed to promote the industrialisation agenda include establishment of Special Economic Zones at Chigumula and Matindi Industrial Parks in Blantyre, Area 55 in Lilongwe, Liwonde Dry Port in Machinga, and Cape Maclear Tourism Hub in Mangochi,” Chakwera said.