JB happy Malawi Kwacha stabilizing, assures workers

President Banda: Economy is healing
President Banda: Economy is healing

President Joyce Banda led the commemoration of the Labour Day in Malawi by reiterating her faith in the fundamentals of her economic policies which have seen the country’s bill stabilizing.

Speaking when she presided over the commemorative celebrations at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, President Banda said that the stabilization of the Kwacha provides the framework for solutions to many economic challenges that the country is currently facing.

“The economy has started stabilizing. The National Statistics Office has reported that inflation has started declining. The Reserve Bank of Malawi and National Bank of Malawi have both reported that the currency has started stabilizing,” said President Banda to a thunderous applause.

“While this is welcome news, we should not lose focus. We must stay the course until we achieve full recovery and sustainable growth. My Government will remain focused on the course we have taken until our economy has fully stabilized.”

This year’s Labour Day celebrations were commemorated under the theme “Malawi Addressing Decent Work Deficits through a Living Wage amidst social, economic and political challenges” which President Banda said was both relevant and befitting because “it reflects the times we are passing through.”

She explained: “Our economy has been going through some of the toughest times in the history of independent Malawi. The global financial and economic crisis has not spared us. However, some regrettable political decisions by the previous administration worsened the situation.”

“We antagonized ourselves with our traditional donors, leading to the suspension of aid and credit facilities. We created sour relations with our tobacco buyers and this affected tobacco prices and the tobacco industry in general.

“Companies could not import raw materials in sufficient quantities due to forex shortages. Fuel became scarce. This disrupted production. As a result, profit margins of businesses shrunk; wages stagnated, and; some companies were compelled to carry out retrenchments or even close down as wage bills became unmanageable.

“The case of Press Agriculture comes to mind which stopped growing tobacco and ended up retrenching over 10, 000 employees at once.”

Economic revival

President Banda said her government was determined to reverse the outlined challenges, explaining, in reference to the theme, that “we can only talk about wages when there is employment, and wages can improve when conditions for business are conducive.”

“As you can all see, donor confidence has been restored and donor in flows are trickling in,” President Banda pointed out, adding: “Companies are able to import the quantities they require because forex is available.”

“Fuel too is available. The price of tobacco at the auction floors has greatly improved. The environment for business has improved tremendously and the outlook remains bright.”

The President said next on the agenda of her government is to embark on job creation, targeting mostly the youth.

“I am putting a lot of emphasis on the youth because they constitute the majority of the labour force and yet they face particularly serious challenges in securing employment,” she explained.

“I take the youth as a key sector of our population to unlock the current and any future development opportunities. It is against this background that I launched the Youth Job Creation Initiative on 15th March 2013 at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe.”

Through this initiative, according to President Banda, her government has “decided to widen employment opportunities for our youth even beyond our borders.”

“My Minister of Labour and her officials are already working on a programme to export our labour to South Korea and Dubai,” she disclosed, adding: “With the growing ease of movement of people, goods and services, many countries are embarking on the export of surplus labour.”

The President noted that “it is a waste of resources for the youth to be idling when they can be engaged in productive work elsewhere for their benefit, that of their families and the nation.”

“There is no way we can address the problem of poverty, as a country, if we do nothing about the many youths who have completed school but are just staying at home,” she challenged, assuring that “my Government will fully exploit any opportunity that may arise for us to export our labour.”

The Labour Day which is also called May Day or International Workers Day is celebrated the world over in recognition of the role played by working men and women in the development of nations.

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