Chakwera calls for widespread citizen involvement in fighting governance maladministration

President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has called for widespread citizen involvement in identifying solutions to governance maladministration, economic unproductivity, systemic corruption, and global inequalities.

Speaking on Friday when he opened the 2021 Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA) Annual General Conference in Mangochi, Chakwera said the “four enemies that have left our people impoverished” for past three decades.

“The effect of these combined forces on our country is not only plain to see, but felt in every household and sector of our economy. Today, we once again find ourselves in a time of crisis. We find ourselves saddled with an economy severely damaged by three decades of bad governance, cycles of natural disasters occasioned by climate change impacts, months of political instability, and waves of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Chakwera challenged Malawians to devote themselves towards fighting poverty and inequalities that have come as a result of these vices.

He reiterated that if Malawi were to ever become a self-reliant and inclusively wealthy middle-income economy as envisaged in Malawi 2063, then Malawians “must gird” themselves and mount a valiant fight against the outlined barriers.

“Not only must this fight be mounted across all government institutions, but it must be mounted across our society by the widespread involvement of all citizens in behaviours and activities that push us closer to our destiny of shared prosperity. Ours is a time that calls for the same kind of resolve our forebears showed during the Great War. Like theirs, ours is a time that requires substantial and permanent changes to Malawian society. Like theirs, ours is a time that requires,” he said.

The President said his government has already commenced implementing programs aimed at developing the country’s industrial sector and promoting value addition.

Chakwera therefore challenged the private sector such as ECAMA to collaborate with the government in implementing the programmes.

“We are currently implementing a project to develop Special Economic Zones across the country. My administration has also championed the following; developed the National Export Strategy II (2021-2026) with a goal to increase exports as a percentage of GDP from 14.6 percent to 18 percent; Ratified the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which will enable the country to access the African Continental Free Trade Area with its products; and Completed the construction of a One-Stop Border Post at the Mchinji/Mwami-Zambia border which will ease cross-border trade between Malawi and Zambia.

“For these efforts to yield fruit, the private sector has an indispensable role. Admittedly, the private sector faces a myriad of challenges which have led to stagnation. One of these challenges is high production costs due to inefficiencies in energy and transport, poor standards leading to non-competitive products on international markets, lack of appropriate skills and uptake of technology, high costs of doing business and deficient enabling infrastructure, low access to export markets, governance challenges with regard to policy making and implementation, and a hostile environment for the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs),” he said.

Chakwera added that his administration developed and launched various export development financing facilities to support private sector organizations with financing for export development, including export packaging credit facility, venture capital facility, contract farming and agriculture export facility.

He said he is determined to ensure that Malawi revamps its manufacturing sector and create an environment that encourages a vibrant private sector-led manufacturing industry supported by strong public-private alliances.

“For my part, I remain fully committed to wielding the powers of my office on these root causes of our people’s poverty. And despite the pain caused by some of the measures we must take to reverse our fortunes, there are signs that our interventions are yielding fruit and that domestic economic recovery is underway, its state of vulnerability notwithstanding.

“Real GDP growth is projected to rebound to 3.8 percent in 2021 from 0.9 percent growth in 2020. This development is due to the recovery we have brought to pandemic-affected sectors like hospitality, food, transportation, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail. We have done this in part by successfully managing the delicate balance between regulating public behaviours that fuel the spread of COVID-19 and responsibly opening up the economy as cases have declined,” he said.

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