Mutharika says Malawi economy resilient despite political violence, COVID-19

President Peter Mutharika says the economy has remained defiantly resilient despite the Coronavirus pandemic and political violence because his government built solid foundations for growth in the first five years.

He said this today in a recorded State of the Nation Address (SONA) played in Parliament.

Mutharika noted that the country maintains record low interest rates, a stable currency, single digit inflation rates and low budget deficits.

“With a real GDP growth rate of 5.1 percent, we still have managed to achieve the 2019 targeted 5 percent of economic growth. This is an improvement from the 3.9 percent real GDP growth registered in 2018.

“However, economic growth rate of 5.5 percent that was projected for 2020 has been challenged by Coronavirus. As a result, the economy is now projected to register an estimated GDP growth of only 1.9 percent in 2020.

“We have also revised downwards the real GDP growth projection for 2021 from an anticipated growth of 5.8 percent to 4.5 percent,” said Mutharika

On trade and industry development, Mutharika said government will continue to undertake several reforms go facilitate an enabling environment for investments.

He mentioned the electronic permit system which he said has reduced the time it takes to obtain various permits such as Business Residence Permit and Temporary Employment Permit from six months to five days.

On health, Mutharika pledged to continue providing enough resources for procurement, storage and distribution of medical supplies in the country.

On COVID-19, Mutharika said government developed a National Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan budgeted at K157 billion but has so far managed to mobilise over K14 billion.

He then asked Malawians to stop politicizing the pandemic and work together in fighting against its further spread.

Before Mutharika’s speech was played in Parliament, Members of Parliament protested saying Mutharika was supposed to be present in the House and deliver the speech.

But Speaker of Parliament, Catherine Gotani Hara, said while the Constitution requires Mutharika to address the August house physically, the recorded speech is still acceptable in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.