Destructive decades-old public policies still haunting Malawi – Chakwera

President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has said some of the social and economic challenges that Malawians are facing today are a result of bad public policies made and implemented in the previous years.

Chakwera made the sentiments when he delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the National Assembly in Lilongwe on Friday.

He said some of the policies previous regimes pursued frustrated production and manufacturing, leaving the majority of the youth without jobs and too little to export to other countries.

“[This is] a failed 20-year-long policy I recently ended by making the bold, painful, unpopular, but healthy decision to end the falsification of the exchange rate and start the work of rebuilding it on the foundation of productivity. It is also undeniable that some of the pain being felt by Malawians stems from the devastation left by the four natural disasters that hit Malawi within a 13 month period, killing thousands, displacing millions, disrupting power supply, washing away homes, flattening entire villages and businesses, dismantling infrastructure, and destroying fields and fields of food crops, which has in turn left millions in need of food relief and which is why everywhere I have gone around the country to hear directly from Malawians themselves over the past six months, they have told me that their greatest threat right now is hunger,” said the President.

Chakwera said this should give reason for Malawians to demand seriousness in the way both elected and non-elected civil servants discharge their duties with seriousness.

He reminded members of Parliament (MPs) and the nation at large that the fundamentals of the country’s economy have been unsound for a long time, which led to stunting of the pace of growth.

Lazarus Chakwera
President Lazarus Chakwera delivers 2024 2025 Budget Session at Parliament -pics by Lisa Kadango Malango

He said time had come for Malawians to urgently restructure the economy.

“Take the inflation rates, for example, which reached 34.5 percent this past December, well above the 2023 average of 28.8 percent. Such inflation rates, which have been going up from year to year for some time now, recently triggered by reduced maize production, are a rising temperature and fever signalling the presence of an infection in the bloodstream of our economy,” said Chakwera.

Madam Speaker, with such clear signs of disease, it is sad that there are economists in this country that think that any small improvement in Malawi’s Gross Domestic Product is acceptable, but I have come here to ask members of this House to join me in rejecting this mindset. What Malawians deserve is an economy that is no longer sick, one that is healthy and able to compete, not just one whose fever is slowly going down. I hope no one in this room or this country thinks it is acceptable that between 2022 and 2023, the GDP only grew by 0.6 percent. I hope no one in this room or this country finds it acceptable that our GDP for 2023 was lower than the 3.1 percent the World Economic Outlook Report projected for the global economy in the same period,” he explained.

“I hope no one in this room or this country is satisfied to see our economy continue to be at the mercy of the fate of advanced economies, whose economic slowdown and restrictive monetary policies are currently dragging down global growth. I hope no one in this room or this country accepts that just because the economic growth for the Sub-Saharan region is stuck below its historical average and just because the economic growth projected for Malawi this year is also below that average, we must let that be our fate. I hope no one in this room or this country finds it acceptable that our gross official reserves at the end of the third quarter of 2023 were less than 250 million dollars, equivalent to just under one month of import cover, not when we have thousands of diaspora Malawians generating revenue abroad and not when the international market is in short supply of value chains we can produce in abundance here at home, added Chakwera.

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