Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has challenged President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera’s Tonse Alliance administration to devise mechanisms for resuscitating the country’s economy from its deathbed.
Addressing journalists in Lilongwe on Thursday, CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa claimed there is overwhelming evidence that the country’s economy is heading towards disaster.
Namiwa cited the rationing of essential goods and services, scaling down of local production due to scarcity of foreign exchange, the ever-weakening Malawi kwacha and increasing electricity load-shedding hours as evidence for his conclusion that the economy is heading south.
He also challenged Chakwera and his administration to ring-fence foreign exchange (forex) for essential services and products such as drugs and medicines, fuel, wheat and cooking oil before the situation gets out of hand.
“Needless to say that the dire economic outlook is dampening the spirits and aspirations of Malawians each and every passing day with headlines clearly pointing to a clueless and helpless leadership. Just to cite a few examples, CDEDI has learnt with shock revelations that this month the country has only managed to secure forex just enough to procure essential drugs and medicines for 20 days; production in most of local industries is at zero; essential commodities such as cooking oil and sugar are being rationed in shops; reputable airlines have scaled down their services in the country due to unavailability of forex; businesses have ground to a halt due to the unavailability of forex.
“In short, Malawi will soon begin to needlessly lose productive lives to preventable diseases due to lack of drugs and medicines in both the public and private health facilities,” said Namiwa as he read a prepared statement at the presser.
“As they say ‘bad politics makes bad economics,’ CDEDI is of the view that the Tonse Alliance government erred big time by cancelling the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
“Apparently, we have established that such a costly decision was made to accommodate their litany of campaign promises such as the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP); the duty free week; including the global trotting by President Chakwera and his Cabinet. Such extravagance would have certainly have put the IMF programme off track, hence the cancellation.
“Well-meaning Malawians may recall that CDEDI recently wrote Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Hon. Sosten Gwengwe, MP demanding an explanation on the status of forex in the country, and policies that have been put in place to reverse current trends. But alas! The minister never bothered to respond, and neither did he acknowledge receipt of the letter,” he added.
Namiwa stated that with inflation rate as high as 15.7 percent, Malawians have now lost the pride that goes with being a citizen of this great nation, as they are trying in vain day and night to save their families from starvation.
He pointed out that for the past two years the Tonse Alliance has been in power, the business community has survived on the parallel market to access forex to run the economy.
He said it is, therefore, a mockery for the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), to peg the US dollar at K825 when, in fact, the authorities are aware that the green buck is not available in the first place, and wherever it is found, the rate is pegged at more than K1,150.
“It is sad that government is exerting negative energy by blaming everyone and everything—from the Covid-19 pandemic to the war in Ukraine—and not its poor leadership, for the skyrocketing cost of living, thereby conveniently forgetting that Malawi is a predominantly importing and consuming nation, hence any rate of fall of the kwacha means more misery for the people.
“Thus far, we demand President Chakwera to swallow his pride and accept that the involvement of his government’s high-ranking officials in forex externalisation; non-trickling of proceeds from the sales of agricultural commodities on the international market such as South Sudan and India; and his own cluelessness in running State affairs; are some of the reasons that have pushed the country’s economy into the ditch,” narrated Namiwa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :