Malawi govt owes private sector K173 billion

It seems Malawi is far from getting out of its economic woes following revelations that the country’s administration owes her private sector K173 billion in unsettled bills for services and goods supplied to different government departments.

Despite having several economic issues dogging her, Malawi is mauling over how it will close an anticipated huge deficit in its planned K743 billion (US$1 790 361 446) 2014/2015 national budget. The deficit is mainly due to an aid freeze by the country’s traditional donors.

In his speech during the opening of 11th National Agriculture Fair in the commercial city Blantyre on Thursday, president of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Newton Kambala disclosed that the Malawi Government owes the private sector, especially small traders, almost K173 billion in arrears.

Kambala: Reminded President Mutharika of the debt
Kambala: Reminded President Mutharika of the debt

The opening ceremony of the fair was graced by President Arthur Peter Mutharika and Kambala took it as an opportunity to ask the President that the money be paid as it was stifling operations of most companies.

“The private sector cannot thrive when government stifles it by not paying for services. Government must be committed to take action to bring about a vibrant private sector in this country. The private sector has seen no action in a long time,” Kambala said.

President Mutharika was accompanied at the fair by his Minister of Agriculture Dr Allan Chiyembekeza.

Mutharika in his address to the gathering that attended the opening of the fair at the Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds urged the agriculture sector in the country to think outside the box and be more innovative in the wake of climate change.

The President said climate change poses a risk to crop yields and the agriculture sector in the country; hence farmers should use irrigation and technology to improve crop yields so that the country can achieve real economic growth.

“That is why my government will revive the Greenbelt initiative, to maximise the use of irrigation in most parts of the country,” he said.

Mutharika also said his government will continue to support the sector to achieve notable economic growth by putting in place policies that support development of the sector.

This year the country’s agriculture fair is being held under the theme: “Agriculture: A Basis for Inclusive Economic Growth.”

Before his speech President Mutharika visited various exhibitors’ pavilions before presenting awards to some of the participants.

So far over 65 participants including exhibitors throughout the whole value chain from research, input suppliers and producers (including farmer organizations), processors and buyers of agriculture produce and service providers are taking part in the fair.

The 11th National Agriculture Fair will run from 28 to 30 August, 2014.

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