President Peter Mutharika’s approval rating has edged into positive ahead of a fresh presidential election on July 2 with more Malawians on Saturday including opposition social media loud-mouths lavishing praise to the Malawi leader who announced he will take a 10% salary cut together with his Cabinet and redirect the money towards the fight against coronavirus.
Mutharika announced a number of measures aimed at cushioning small- and medium-sized businesses, including tax breaks and an increase of Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medf) loans allocation from K13 billion to K15 billion.
President Mutharika also ordered a reduction in fuel allowances, an increase in risk allowances for health workers and an increase of nutrition allowance payable to civil servants with foundational medical conditions by 50 percent.
“We have an unprecedented situation. Government has taken these measures to ensure continuity,” he said.
Amongst other measures, Mutharika directed the Reserve Bank of Malawi to allow banks to offer a three-month moratorium on interest payments on loans to small- and medium-sized businesses.
“ Under this arrangement the Registrar will encourage commercial banks to restructure loans to this sector in order to extend their repayment to more than a year,” said Mutharika.
The President also asked the Central Bank to cushion the foreign exchange market to ensure availability of forex and stability of the foreign exchange rate.
Mutharika also ordered the country’s tobacco markets to be opened and allowed to operate without disruption to protect small farmers and bolster foreign currency receipts. Tobacco is Malawi’s chief foreign currency earner.
“The government will continue monitoring and review situation as it unfolds,” Mutharika said.
Private practice lawyer David Kanyenda simply described Mutharika’s directives as “bold, decisive and pragmatic.”
Most of opposition social media commentators took a sudden change of heart on Saturday when they praised Mutharika that he has shown leadership in the gravity of the situation the country is in following the coronavirus threat.
Opposition leaders could not immediately comment on Mutharika’s address but its is expected they will provide constructive response and work with the government to confront the pandemic and not engage in opposition for opposition’s sake.
On Thursday, Malawi recorded its first three confirmed cases of the coronavirus. On Saturday, the number rose to four.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :