As some people were yesterday protesting against the rising cost of living, President Lazarus Chakwera said he is doing everything possible to improve the current economic status.
While his speech was well aligned to the event—launch of the presidential initiative on job creation—its preamble focused on acknowledging that, indeed, the cost of living had gone high, but that things would get better.
The President reminded the gathering how his government has increased people’s income through a number of initiatives, including boosting the minimum wage, increasing the free tax bracket by a wider margin and also introduction of the Affordable Inputs Subsidy Programme.
“I ordered the creation of the National Economic Empowerment Fund (Neef), which has so far disbursed K25 billion in loans to capitalise the creation of local businesses. It was to increase incomes. When I ordered that social cash transfers be made to hundreds of thousands of low-income families around the country every month, it was to increase incomes,” said Chakwera, sounding like someone who feels unappreciated for his efforts, especially by those accusing him of failing to manage the economy.
Chakwera, as if responding to the protestors, said Malawians appreciate that the current economic hardship had not come about as a result of his leadership but other factors, including global economic trends.
Said Chakwera: “Malawian people understand plenty, because they are neither stupid nor uninformed. They know that the prices are going up around the world, not just in Malawi. They know that on top of the production and supply chain factors causing prices to go up around the world, other pressures unique to Malawi have made matters worse for our country not because of his leadership but because of the world economic trends”.
His administration having faced persistent criticism on one million jobs campaign promise, the President took his time to boast how much his government has done in creating the promised jobs. He said while they may not have created one million jobs, by now hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created.
“What is honest to say is that although the new jobs we have created in the first year are in the hundreds of thousands instead of a million, the existing jobs we have saved from being lost as collateral damage caused by impacts of the pandemic are also in the hundreds of thousands,” boasted Chakwera.
He said the presidential initiative on job creation was another effort for the administration to create even more jobs for purposes of growing the struggling economy.
At this point the President asked for partnership with the private sector, who he assured of a conducive environment for their businesses and operations. The President hailed Neef and TNM for working together to increase access to financing for small businesses.
Neef chairperson Jephter Mtema, whose organisation has signed a memorandum of understanding with TNM, said there has been a high number of defaulters for Neef loans in the past largely due to lack of banking services in some parts of the country.
Mtema said there are places where banks shun; hence, the partnership with TNM, which will allow people to pay back loans using TNM mobile mobile within their locality.
On his part TNM chief executive officer Arnold Mbwana said realise that supporting young people to implement locally-driven solutions is key in poverty alleviation and empowerment.
“As TNM, we intend to work with Neef to economically empower Malawian communities based on their core competencies.”