National Planning Commission (NPC) has stressed the need for a strong government policy to direct ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to ban importation of goods that can be locally produced.
NPC director general Thomas Chataghalala Munthali said this in an interview on Thursday in Lilongwe when he met Minister of Industry Roy Kachale to discuss how the ministry can contribute to the National Transformation 2063 plan, the successor of Vision 2020.
He said the move could spur industrialisation as manufacturers will feel protected and empowered by the government.
Munthali said in the new vision, industrialisation is coming out as among the key pillars, adding that in the long-term, the country needs to be thinking of how it can grow small and medium enterprises.
He said: “Unless those things are not locally available then they can be imported.
“Government is the main procurer of goods and services in the country and if this policy can be implemented then it means we are saving on foreign exchange while at the same time inducing industrialisation, economic growth and job creation.”
On his part, Kachale admitted that Malawi is losing foreign exchange through importation of goods which could have been sourced locally.
He said Malawi imports more steel and fertiliser, among others, and hoped that in the new vision, deliberate efforts will be made to attract both local and foreign investors to invest in fertiliser and steel manufacturing.
Said Kachale: “This year alone, Malawi will need to import 400 000 metric tonnes of fertiliser.
“Imagine if this was produced locally using some locally found materials, we will have created many jobs and saved foreign exchange.”
Economist Milward Tobias, who is also executive director for Centre for Research and Consultancy, said in a written response yesterday that the best policy to spur industrialisation is one which aims at building competitiveness of local industries.