By Chikumbutso Mtumodzi
President Lazarus Chakwera says a right policy framework is key in the process of healing the country’s economy.
The President said this on Friday, June 17, 2022 when he launched the Private Sector Labs at the Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
Using his favourite sickness/treatment analogy, President Chakwera said for a long time the country’s economy has been sick and only surviving through the administration of pain killers to thaw the pain. But added that now the economy has reached a tipping point where painkillers are not working.
“Our country’s economy has been sick in many ways for a long time. The symptoms of its sickness have been with us and around us for decades. Some of these symptoms have stayed hidden, masked by policies and measures designed to numb Malawians from feeling the pain of their plight, without curing the underlying causes of the sickness,” said President Chakwera.
He added that it is important that deliberate measures are taken to heal the economy by administering real treatment. The Head of State said the first step in doing that is to accept the fact that no single economy in the history of the world was ever built by giving people things in exchange for nothing.
“No single economy in the world was ever built by getting free things, but by producing valuable things. What that means, in principle, is that we must accept the fact that our economy will never be cured until we start to build it on the foundation of a thriving and expanding private sector, because the private sector is the one sector that operates on productivity, the practice and discipline of producing things of value in the marketplace,” said President Chakwera.
Added the President: “For this reason, I am launching these Private Sector Labs to bring leaders of Government and captains of industry together to answer one question: what must we change in order to make Malawi a place where businesses and investments that desire to produce valuable things find it easy to expand, export, and employ? If we can answer that question together and implement the changes here in real time, we will begin to cure the disease of unproductivity that lies at the heart of our economy.”
President Chakwera added that when he talks about private sector, he talks about the private sector that is capable of sustaining and spreading economic gains by fostering increased savings and capital formation, technology transfer; better products as well as services for consumers. He added that the country’s economy will be relying on such a sector to create jobs and worth for Malawians.
The launch was attended by members of the private sector as well as other stakeholders such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). In an interview on the sidelines of the launch, UNDP Resident Representative Shigeki Komatsubara hailed the initiative saying the Private Sector Labs would help remove bottlenecks hampering economic growth such as shortage of forex, limited access to capital and others.
The President noted that the country’s manufacturing sector is only contributing 11 percent of Malawi’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP), which is on the lower side saying he hoped the labs will be a stepping stone towards broadening the manufacturing sector in this country to produce products for export.
Another partner, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the World Bank, also said it was ready to work with government of Malawi in supporting the development of the country’s private sector through the Private Sector labs.
IFC resident representative for Malawi and Zambia, Madalo Minofu, said his organisation is geared to provide private sector financing for various investments including in the energy and agro-business sector to spur economic growth and uplifted lives of Malawians.
The Private Sector labs are meant to operate as a platform for structured interface between the private and public sectors to maximize development impact.
Earlier this week Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Colleen Zamba, had an interface with various development partners at capital Hill to orient them on the operational frameworks for the labs, which are domiciled at the Presidential Delivery Unit. The PDU was launched in October last year by President Lazarus Chakwera to ensure that government delivers on its promises to Malawians.