MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s industrialist, Konrad Buckle, who is also managing director of Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC), a cigarette maker, has called on the private sector to help Malawi Government to solve the foreign currency jumble rather than blaming it.
The sentiments by Buckle, who is also the chairperson of Group One Armed and Armoured Security Services, come at a time the private sector is scaling down its operations and, in some cases, shedding its workforce, for failing to import raw materials for their production purposes due to foreign currency squeeze.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We need to create forex. We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just sit back and wait for government to supply forex in this country. All businesses in this country, the leaders of the industry need to make an effort,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Buckle in an interview.
He said the shortage of foreign currency could partly be attributed to the rising status of the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s middle class which is importing just about everything yet exports are dwindling.
But Buckle admitted that the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s operating environment is hostile to business operations arguing, however, that the whole world is practically in recession taking into account the problems in the Eurozone and the US economy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not easy to do business at the moment, but we [as the private sector] have to put in place strategies to survive,Ã¢â‚¬Â he observed.
Last week, Nico Holdings Limited managing director Felix Mlusu also called on local businesses to strategise on how best to maximise business opportunities during the economic crisis and after.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The [MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s] economy is in a crisis, but we can only remain hopeful that going forward things will change. This is why as businesses, we have to effectively plan on how we should get to where we would want to get,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Mlusu at the listing of rights shares on the Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) on Tuesday.
Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Ken Lipenga in November revised downwards the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate for 2011 by 0.9 percentage points to six percent from 6.9 percent outlined in the 2011/12 national budget, signalling the extent at which the economy has been knocked.
He told Parliament that the construction and manufacturing sectors will slow down because of the shortages of foreign currency, fuel and power shortages.
But he said in 2012, the economic is expected to rebound to 6.6 percent, the same projection outlined in the budget.
The IMF, in its September 2011 World Economic Outlook (WEO), cut MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s growth to 4.6 percent this year and further down to 4.2 percent in 2012.