Smallscale businesses in the country have written government to consider reviewing policy measures in the fight against coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic to best suit their survival.
This is in response to measures announced by President Peter Mutharika last Saturday meant to ease burden on Malawians and businesses in view of the pandemic.
Chamber for Small and Medium Business Association president James Chiutsi said the association would want to see more measures effected to support small businesses.
“We have noted positive initiatives summed at cushioning loses that may be occasioned by the business community, however we want government to consider SME sector specific.
We have enterprises dealing in pharmaceutical products, we suggest that they receive special funding to help them buy and supply sanitary products to help fight the pandemic,” he said.
Chiutsi explained that government needs to broaden and help fast track loans from Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medf) and banks but also help put in place less stringent requirements for SMEs to access finance.
“We want loans from Medf as well as banks dispersed with very minimal delay especially to those SMEs already operating and with bank accounts. We also want the moratorium period extended to at least 6 months as this will aid the SMEs to plan properly,” he said.
Chiutsi added that enterprises in pharmaceutical products want a special funding to help them buy and supply sanitary products to help fight the pandemic.
In his address on additional Covid-19 measures on Saturday, Mutharika announced policy changes meant to cushion businesses.
The President instructed commercial banks and micro-finance institutions to observe a three-month moratorium on interest and principal repayments for all loans contracted by micro, small and medium enterprises.
Under this arrangement, Mutharika said the registrar will encourage commercial banks to restructure loans to this sector to extend their repayment by more than a year.
He also ordered the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to open up a voluntary tax compliance window for a period of six months to allow taxpayers with arrears to settle their tax obligations in installments without penalties and fines.
The President has also ordered Medf-administered loan resource envelope to be increased from K13 billion to K15 billion to help micro, small and medium scale businesses access credit.
The Institute of Bankers in Malawi (IOB) has welcomed government efforts to cushion SMEs.
IOB chief executive officer Lyness Nkungula said in an interview that those customers that are in distress now should after the moratorium approach the banks to restructure their credit facilities.
“The moratorium is a win-win situation as we want the banks to survive as well through this troublesome period,” she said.