Malawi News Agency (Lilongwe)

21 February 2014

Malawi's Economic Growth Projected At 6.1 Per Cent in 2014

Mzuzu — Malawi Government says it expects the country's economy to grow by 6.1 per cent this year, following significant progress of programmes under the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).

Minister of Economic Planning and Development, RalphJooma, onThursday told journalists in Mzuzu during a press briefing by the cabinet committee on ERP, that there is significant progress of Malawi's economy following the implementation of ERP.

He said in 2013, Malawi's economy grew by 5.4 per cent as compared to 1.8 per cent growth in 2012.

"[This] means the 5.4 per cent significant growth rate has actually been achieved because of what we are doing. It is not being achieved by accident.

"It is being achieved following the programmes that we put in place following the ERP. We are expecting that in 2014, our economy will grow by 6.1 per cent," said Jooma, who chairs the committee.

He was franked by Minister of Information Brown Mpingajira, Minister of Tourism and Culture Moses Kunkuyu, Deputy Minister of Finance Dr. Cornelius Mwalwanda and Energy and Mining Minister John Bande, among others.

Jooma also informed the journalists that the country's inflation rate is not "very bad".

"Inflation at the end of December was 23 per cent. This is also a... decline because in April 2013, inflation was at 34 per cent," he explained.

Jooma partly attributed the decrease in inflation to availability of plenty food in the country despite the current lean period.

"We are at the peak of the lean period but you can see that we have managed to address the challenges of hunger that we expected in this country," he said.

The minister added that government has managed to address the challenge of shortage of foreign currency that some quarters expected following the withholding of foreign budgetary support.

"We can report out that we are now standing at 2.1 month of import cover which is close to US$400 million in forex reserve even at this lean period," Jooma said.

He further disclosed that production by Malawi's companies has improved. He said before the ERP, production was at 30 per cent but now it is over 70 per cent.

"That reflects the fact that the means of production such as raw materials, fuel and everything else that they [companies] need, and most of them are imported things, are available," the minister said.

Before the current regime of President Joyce Banda assumed power, Malawi was in economic crisis characterised by shortage of foreign currency and scarcity of fuel among other challenges.

Therefore, the new government formulated the ERP which outlined short-term and mid-term to long-term solutions to the challenges.

Some of the solutions included the devaluation of the local currency, softening of punitive tax collection laws, and raising of interest rates.

The ERP also has short and mid-term to long-term programmes and projects selected in five key sectors of the economy which include Agriculture, Tourism, Mining, Infrastructure Development and Energy.

Jooma said the first three sectors were selected because of their ability to generate foreign currency and create employment while the last two were selected to address the constraints that had been there all along in the Malawi's economy.

"A lot of work is being done in that this economy is on a positive trajectory. The economy has actually recovered," he said, adding that the country has managed to spend three months now without donor support.

"We should be heading for a better future of this country," Jooma said.

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