Mutharika orders MERA to reduce fuel prices


…some prisoners to be released

President Peter Mutharika has ordered the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority to reduce fuel prices with immediate effect in order to reduce transport costs.

Mutharika issued the order in a statement on Saturday, hours after the fourth case of the coronavirus in Malawi was confirmed.

He said his government will also decongest prisons with the ainm of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. The president then directed the Malawi Prison Services and Juvenile Centres to present a list of prisoners and juveniles who committed petty offences and those who have served a significant portion of their sentences for moderate crimes to the Minister of Homeland Security for processing of their release;

Mutharika also suspended all formal meetings and gatherings; and advised all employers to allow vulnerable employees, including those with underlying medical conditions, to work from or stay at home.

“In order to decongest work places, all offices shall work in shifts with the exception of those working in essential services. In the public sector, the Chief Secretary to the Government will issue a circular to provide guidelines while for the private and other sectors, the heads of institutions shall liaise with the Secretary responsible for Labour for guidelines,” said Mutharika.

The Malawi leader further noted that the Coronavirus attack has a huge negative impact on the economy and businesses everywhere.

He said his government will take measures to protect jobs and incomes, protect businesses and ensure continuity of the supply chain and the survival of the economy.

“Our goal is to protect the private sector, no matter how informal it may be, because our economy cannot survive without the private sector,” said Mutharika.

He then ordered the Treasury to reduce salaries of the President, Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers by 10 percent for three months and direct the resources to the fight against the coronavirus;

Mutharika further told the Treasury to provide a special fund to ADMARC to buy agricultural produce at competitive prices; and establish a Relief Fund through which well-wishers can support the fight against Coronavirus.

He added that the Treasury should reduce fees and charges on all electronic money transactions in order to promote use of electronic money transactions; and increase the risk allowances for our health workers as a matter of urgency.

On tobacco marketing season, Mutharika said the Ministry of Agriculture should ensure that Auction Holdings Limited functions normally to operate the tobacco marketing season and protect tobacco farmers.

He also instructed the Malawi Revenue Authority to open up a voluntary tax compliance window for a period of six months to allow tax payers with arrears to settle their tax obligations in instalments without penalty

“Government shall continue to monitor the implementation of these new and existing measures and review the situation as it develops. More comprehensive measures may be imposed,’ he said.

He then thanked development partners for supporting Malawi when their “own families and loved ones are in equally demanding situations” in their home countries.

Mutharika also encouraged Malawians to observe strict rules of hygiene, including frequent washing of hands with soap, and to unite and stand steadfast in these trying times.

He said: “Together, we can win the war against Coronavirus. Let us not politicize this pandemic.”