By William Kumwembe:
Malawi Stock Exchange-listed National Bank of Malawi (NBM) has said the 5.3 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth estimate for this year is not sufficient to reverse the country’s poverty levels.
This was said on Thursday during the bank’s 47th annual general meeting (AGM) meeting in Blantyre.
NBM Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer for conglomerate Press Corporation Limited, George Partridge, told delegates to the AGM that Malawi needed to do more in order to attain sustainable economic growth that would be able to offset the current poverty levels.
In his report, Partridge, however, said agriculture would remain the mainstay of the country’s economic growth, anchored by a stable macroeconomic environment.
“Down side risks to achieving this growth include an unstable macroeconomic environment. In addition to power challenges, extensive flooding near the end of the cropping season caused by Cyclone Idai could affect the initial crop and, therefore, the GDP growth estimate,” Partridge said.
Malawi government set an ambitious GDP growth estimate of over five percent.
But the World Bank and International Monetary Fund slashed Malawi’s GDP growth rate for 2019 to 4.5 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the NBM Chairperson has announced that the bank registered a group profit-after-tax of K15.97 billion from K19.15 billion in the year ended December 31 2018, representing a 16.6 percent decrease.
He attributed the performance to subdued loan book in the first half of the year.
During the year under review, Partridge said the country experienced a relatively stable macro-economic environment where inflation averaged 9.3 percent, down from 11.6 percent in 2017.
“In spite of the generally stable environment, economic activity was for a greater part of the year muted, as, among other factors, the country continued to experience prolonged power outages which affected customers’ productivity and, therefore, appetite for credit and other banking facilities,” Partridge said.