Chairperson for the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) National Planning Entities (NPEs) Thomas Chataghalala Munthali has complained of macro-economic and budgetary challenges that the Russia- Ukraine War has exerted on member countries but has called on nations to harness opportunities arising from the crisis.
Munthali, who heads the Malawi National Planning Commission (NPC), raised the concerns during a media briefing in Lilongwe after a virtual meeting with leaders of other NPEs in the region.
He said beyond Covid, the Russia-Ukraine War has put inflationary pressures on nations and has stifled macro-economic growth such that nations have to put their money towards productive capacities and take cross-border trade seriously.
“The idea really is to see how we can address the challenges and utilise the opportunities arising. The challenges call for a stronger look at domestic resource mobilisation capacities and strengthening the regional value chains, especially those we rely on a lot more from the Russia-Ukraine region, such as wheat, fuel, grains in general and fertiliser among others,” Munthali said.
He said, in the meantime, nations are challenged to review the quality of their expenditures by concentrating on areas where there is going to be better value for money.
Munthali said Sadc countries have been seen to be investing more in production capacities and social protection programes to ensure that poor households do not slip back into abject poverty.
“But in the long-term, the region is thinking about collectively building the production capacities of infrastructure more, including financial architecture, so that we are able to finance the opportunities that we have, like in the agriculture sector, in which we can build buffer zones that, in crises like these, we have resources to draw up on,” he said.
He said through the Economic Commission for Africa and Sadc Secretariat nations will be supported on matters of cross-border trade.
Last Friday, President Lazarus Chakwera held talks with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky on the effects of the Russia- Ukraine war on least developed countries and Sadc Community, which Chakwera chairs.
According to the Malawi leader, Ukraine’s blocked ports and ability to export grains to low-income nations has driven up food prices, thereby pushing millions of families into poverty.
Chakwera described the declaration and acts of war by Russia against Ukraine as a disturbing and destabilising development.
And in his Twitter post, Zelensky said he had the first conversation with the Malawi leader in the history of Ukraine-Malawi, further appreciating the support from international organisations.