Malawi govt’s economic team flee from forex meet

Two ministers and critical members of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s economic team  fled from attending a national meeting to strategise on how to diversify the economy and broaden the country’s forex base on Saturday in Blantyre.

The aim of the consultative workshop was to solicit views, contributions and input from all stakeholders in Malawi on how best the country can boost foreign currency generation and export diversification.

Finance and Development Planning   Minister Dr Ken Lipenga was supposed to open the discussion but he changed last minute. He sent his deputy Dr Cornelius Mwalwanda and Trade Minister John Bande.

Chikaonda: Malawi economy sinking

Bande opened the event and left Mwalwanda in charge, telling the private sector that the deputy minister was better placed to discuss with them on technical basis as he is well versed in finance and economic issues.

The meeting was supposed to be attended by custodians of fiscal and monetary policies including  Treasury Secretary Joseph Mwanamvekha and Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor Perks Ligoya.

Both were on the programme but shied away because of what sources in the ministry said were strong stand by President Mutharika not to tone down on devaluation and reduction of taxes in the zero defict budget.

Commissioner General of Malawi Revenue Authority, Lloyd Muhara, also left the place after Bande took leave.

The private sector representatives, Dr Mathews Chikaonda and Chancellor Kaferapanjira said Malawi is sinking and it mostly need direction from the ship’s captain who is not taking simple advice from the sector to address economic challenges.

The sector has also advised government to devalue the Malawi kwacha as a way of getting back donor support and making product produced locally competitive on the international market.

Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) governor Dr Perks Ligoya held a similar conference on September 13 2011.

During the September meeting, business captains gave the High Level Conference on Export Diversification and Generation plenty of ideas on how to diversify the economy and generate  $1 billion [about K167 billion] in export earnings by September 30 2012.

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