Two small and medium enterprises (SMEs) groups have spoken out on the delay by Cabinet to approve the national economic empowerment policy (Neep) framed after countrywide consultations five years ago.
The policy, according the Empowerment Action Group (Eeag) and Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Smea), is critical because if approved, it will result in the establishment of the national economic empowerment commission, national economic empowerment fund and an Act.
It will also ensure the formulation of the transformation charter and code of good practice for country’s SMEs, a critical grouping to the country’s economic growth and development.
Eeag executive director, Temson Chinjala, told Business News this week that Malawi can only register meaningful development if indigenous citizens, who are marginalised through their businesses, have capacity to run successful businesses.
“We are requesting Cabinet to ensure that the policy is approved to ensure the passing of economic empowerment bill into law, particularly in the forthcoming sitting of Parliament.
“As an autonomous organisation, we have to use all our means to ensure that the policy is approved for it to be implemented because we have waited for too long,” he said.
Chinjala said the policy will ensure that indigenous businesses have access to government contracts, quoting the medium to small to medium enterprise survey of 2012 which showed that a paltry three percent of SMEs access government contracts.
The policy also addresses issues such as tax levies for start-ups and SMEs, formation of joint ventures to ensure that they win large government contracts.
On his part, Smea interim president, James Chiutsi, said in an interview Cabinet’s approval of the policy will be timely because its implementation will be beneficial to the wider economy.
“We believe that the policy will ensure inclusiveness. SMEs play a critical role to the economic development and we really know what is happening to the economy,” he said.
The policy implementation will be spearheaded by the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development whose minister Ralph Jooma was not available to a comment this week.
Business News wanted to find out why there has been a delay by Cabinet to debate and approve the policy and government’s involvement in the implementation of the same.
Neep is premised on similar policies that are being implemented in neighbouring countries in the region.
For example, in Zambia, the policy has resulted in the formation of Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission, Black Economic Empowerment Commission in South Africa, National Economic Empowerment Commission in Tanzania and Citizen Economic Empowerment Commission in Botswana.
Through these commissions, indigenous businesses are benefiting through the award of contracts and other incentives.