Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa has urged Government to scale up cash transfer programme and reduce fuel prices to help cushion the suffering of Malawians due to rise in Covid-19 infections.
He said this today in response to the national address which President Lazarus Chakwera made on Sunday.
Nankhumwa said government should channel some resources from the K17.52 billion meant for Covid fight towards cautionary mechanisms such as cash transfers for the ultra poor to cushion them against the extreme economic impact of Covid-19.
“Economic impact of Covid-19 is disastrous. We have witnessed people losing jobs. Small and medium enterprises are beginning to fold. There is need to boost their economic vitality otherwise we risk sinking millions of our people into the mess of abject poverty. covid- 19 has the potential to throw millions into the jaws of poverty at the time when we are working hard to move out of the peripherals of being one of the least developed countries on earth. This is the time that Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (NEEF) has to open up and accord soft loans to more people in the country,” he said.
The Leader of Opposition also called on Government to reduce price of fuel to curb the rise in prices of goods
“By reducing fuel prices, the cost of some services and products will ease thus in the end passing on the benefits to the common man on the street, to the labourers going to fetch piece works, to the officer riding a minibus and many others,” said Nankhumwa.
For the private sector, Nankhumwa said the Chakwera administration should bring about measures to inject relief in the operating environment and help it remain in business.
He said the government can introduce tax holidays or attendant stimuli to suppliers of essential products and services in the private sector as a way of encouraging them to be in the value chain against Covid-19.
He said: “The tourism industry is on deathbed and it needs the support of the government. Many other industries better be supported or we risk becoming perennial importers of everything upon the demise of our industries that have been instrumental in our bid to enhance import substitution. If we are not careful, we will never realize out long cherished dream of becoming a predominantly producing and exporting country.”
Other measures which Nankhumwa mentioned include reducing cost of water to encourage people to wash hands, pardoning some prisoners to decongest prisons and hiring more health workers.
Malawi has registered more than 13,000 Coronavirus cases and over 300 deaths. About 6,000 of the cases and more than 100 of the deaths have been recorded this year.
The rise in cases has forced President Chakwers to re-introduce tougher prevention measures including closure of schools.