The Chamber of Commerce on Thursday said the Bingu wa Mutharika administration should not live in denial because the economic woes facing Malawi are a result of governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bad policies.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira was reacting to the speech the President made in Ntcheu at the elevation of Traditional Authority Makwangwala to Senior Chief. Mutharika blamed foreign investors for the forex shortage in the country.
He also blamed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for demanding the devaluation of the Kwacha.
In an interview, Kaferapanjira said governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bad policies have led to the current economic woes and warned that Malawi is doomed if Mutharika does not change his mindset.
The President, fresh from blaming MalawiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s economy woes on Satan and later the opposition just in a space of one week, turned the heat on foreign investors, claiming they are keeping millions of Malawi’s money in foreign banks.
The President singled out international chain stores Shoprite, Game Stores and Mr. Price and some banks he did not name as investors that have caused the forex shortage, which has subsequently led to the current fuel crisis.
Mutharika then ordered the Trade and Industry Minister not to allow a new foreign firm to open business in the country until they specify where they would be keeping their forex.
On the kwacha devaluation as demanded by the IMF, the President reiterated that the move would negatively affect poor people in the villages. He challenged that as such he cannot devalue the kwacha. Ironically, government devalued the kwacha by 10 percent last August.
Mutharika also attacked local economists for supporting the devaluation, claiming they are not competent as their brains were washed with Omo detergent. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mitu yawo anayichapa ndi Omo,Ã¢â‚¬Â he teased.
But Kaferapanjira said the President is making Malawi to live in a world of its own by not willing to devalue the kwacha.
He also said the attack on local economists as brainless is unfortunate because the President is local himself.
Said Kaferapanjira: Ã¢â‚¬Å“The PresidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s comment in our view is continuation of scapegoats. There could be some companies that misbehaved, but you cannot generalise. If there are companies he knows are indulging in illegal activities, let him come up with names.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unfair to attack foreign companies that are legally operating in the country; after all, there are laws under which these foreign firms operate. There is a Foreign Investment Act government uses when accepting these foreign firms and any foreign investor follows the law.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He said the President has never taken any advice from local economists and uses his own expertise that has failed Malawi.
Said Kaferapanjira: Ã¢â‚¬Å“The President is making matters worse by blaming the economic woes on different groups. This is dangerous and we donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what he is going to do next. He is blaming everybody else apart from himself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He said the business community was not looking into the future with confidence.Ã¢â‚¬Â
During the ceremony, Mutharika called upon Malawians to open their eyes on who is fooling them.
Said the President: Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t listen to someone who is talking nonsense. You are becoming poor because these people are not keeping their money here. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t protect IMF, protect these [local] people. Next year, 2012, I will face you, I will face you.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The President also argued that when Malawians sell their tobacco at the auction floors, the buying companies resell the crop abroad and earn dollars, but do not keep the money in the country.
Mutharika, who admitted there is a forex shortage in the country, disputed claims that the economy is collapsing, arguing the fact that banks are making profits and others are still interested to open in the country is testimony that the economy is still sound.Ã‚Â The President also asked Malawians to pray for rains.