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Mixed views on Covid measures

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Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda

The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) and the Economics Association of Malawi say new Covid measures could be detrimental to business.

On Wednesday, the presidential taskforce on Covid, led by Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, announced new measures to be implemented from today in a quest to contain the spread of the virus.

Among other things the taskforce indicated that companies should devise work shifts that should accommodate 50 percent of their workforce at a time.

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It further said commercial banks should ensure that ATMs have enough cash at all the times, drinking joints should open from 2pm to 10pm, restaurants should open from 6am to 10pm, and public transport vehicles should not exceed 50 percent of their carrying capacity.

In an interview, MCCCI President James Chimwaza said limiting number of workers in the industry is detrimental as, currently, production is at its peak considering the just ended harvesting season.

“We need a lot of people to grade produce, package it and ensure that all the attributes such as moisture content are right and that has got to be done in a fixed time. These Covid measures threaten the value that we get out of what we have produced and that has a serious impact on our economic performance,” Chimwaza said.

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In a separate interview Ecama Executive Director Frank Chikuta said, if the measures will be implemented for a long period, the economy will not be able to achieve the projected growth of 3.8 percent this year.

“The economy will be constrained because economic agents are no longer free to conduct business which will have an impact on their income and ultimately how much revenue the government can collect because that is dependent on how much economic activity is going on,” Chikuta said.

Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu projected that the economy, which grew by 0.9 percent in 2020, would grow by 3.8 percent in 2021 and 5.2 percent in 2022.

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