Malawi Leader President Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera on Friday hinted that private sector is a crucial stakeholder in as far as building the country’s economy is concerned.
Addressing Private Sector stakeholders in Lilongwe during the launch of the Private Sector Labs, Chakwera 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.”
For this reason, the President said was happy to launch the Private Sector Labs
to bring leaders of Government and captains of industry together to answer one question regarding what must be changed 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.
Chakwera hinted that he is dismayed with economic diseases currently in the country. He said this is the time these diseases are fully healed using whatever type of painful procedures.
“Although we have always seen these proofs of economic disease in our midst, we have not felt the full pain of
them because of the painkillers that get pumped into the economy. These painkillers have included handouts of
food aid in exchange for nothing, handouts of donor support in exchange for nothing, handouts of cash aid in
exchange for nothing, handouts of contracts in exchange for nothing, handouts of party materials in exchange for nothing, and handouts of unsustainable loans in exchange for nothing,” lamented the Malawi Leader.
Chakwera also stressed the need for a vibrant private sector if the country is to achieve meaningful economic development.
He observed that no country’s economy can develop with over reliance on handouts.
“Our economy has been sick in many ways for a long time and we have failed to administer the right cure to our sickness. The sicknesses have remained among us despite administering several doses of painkillers. Time has now come to abandon those painkillers and embrace real cure to our sicknesses,” said Chakwera
The Malawi leader further said there is need to start finding solutions to high levels of unemployment among the youths, worsening poverty levels among rural households, stagnation of income levels for workers, gross imbalance between imports and exports as well as over reliance on one cash crop.
The Private Sector Labs is President Chakwera’s initiative in an efforts to find solutions to the country’s fragile economy. The Labs are being championed by the Presidential Delivery Unit in collaboration with the Malawi Investment Trade Centre and Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Chakwera challenged delegates that graced the launch to start asking themselves; what is it that the country must do for the economy to be able to expand, employ as well as export.
President Chakwera said the solution to the current challenges suffocating growth of the country’s private sector is the operating environment hence the need for urgent action to make the country’s operating environment conducive for both local and foreign investors.
“Let’s make the environment conducive so that we can be able to attract both local and foreign investors. Time for public officers to be receiving kickbacks to award contracts to some few investors is over. And to you private sector players bury your differences and let’s focus on building the country’s economy. We don’t need situations where players refuse to enter into joint ventures for selfish reasons,” he said.
Speaking earlier Vice President, Saulos Chilima said time has come for the country to start putting into practice various policies that have been formulated.
“We have had enough of planning meetings. Enough of recommendations and we continue to suffer from the same analysis paralysis syndrome I believe time to act is now,” said Chilima.
In his address, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Representative Shigeki Komatsubara pledged his organization’s commitment towards the successful running of the Private Sector Labs.
Komatsubara said he believes the private sector labs will help eliminate barriers to investment in Malawi.
Meanwhile President of the Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Lekani Katandula has expressed his excitement at the launch of the first ever Private Sector Labs describing them as the real game changer.
“These are not just talk shows. These labs will provide a platform for us players in the private sector to engage with government on how best we can overcome challenges that are suffocating our growth.
“We have a case in mind of Shayona Cement manufacturing company that is failing to start operating its manufacturing equipment just because ESCOM is failing to upgrade its power line that connects to the factory and yet the country is importing cement almost daily when if this new machine was operational Shayona could have been manufacturing cement locally to meet the ever growing demands, so we believe the Labs will help address such issues,” said Katandula.