The Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) says the newly introduced Covid-19 measures pose a threat to survival of businesses.
In an interview on Wednesday, MCCCI president James Chimwaza said government needed to concentrate on awareness and enforcement of mandatory wearing of face masks, physical distancing and regular washing of hands which have proven workable over time.
He said: “The economic growth is measured by the level of production. If the projected growth is shrunken or completely wiped out, then what factor of safety have we achieved by that measure.
“Observe these controls first but if it doesn’t work out, then you introduce such tough measures to contain the situation.”
Chimwaza said the development may threaten the K1.9 trillion 2021/22 National Budget assumptions as the strict Covid-19 measures will reduce production and productivity.
Faced with a rise in new Covid-19 cases, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 on Wednesday tightened precautionary measures, including reverting to restrictions on public gatherings to 50.
Co-chairperson of the task force Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said employers are advised to decongest workplaces by devising shifts that will see half the staff working at any given time.
Where possible, she said, workers should be operating from their respective homes.
Chiponda said: “Employees at high-risk of severe disease such as people aged 60 and above and people with comorbidities should work from home.”
Economist Milward Tobias, who is executive director of Centre for Research and Consultancy, agreed with MCCCI that the emphasis should be on raising awareness on prevention measures.
He said: “However, I believe the restrictions have still balanced economic and health interests given the environment we are in.”
The 2021/2022 budget was formulated under several assumptions including a projected real GDP growth rates of 3.8 percent in 2021 and 5.4 percent in 2022, average inflation rate of 7.4 percent during the fiscal year and a stable exchange rate of about K780/dollar.