Balaka — Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Goodall Gondwe on Wednesday disclosed that plans are at an advanced stage for the government to establish its own commercial bank.
Gondwe said before the month of November ends, President Professor Peter Mutharika would make the pronouncement regarding the opening of the said bank.
The minister made the disclosure in Balaka at Mangombo Primary School ground within Kwitanda Trading Centre when he launched the Financial Access for Rural Markets, Smallholders and Enterprises (FARMSE) programme.
"Let me reveal to you one secret, that soon government will open its own bank to be helping people giving out soft loans for their socio-economic development. By the end of this month, the President will make the official announcement on this," Gondwe said.
Commenting on FARMSE launch, Gondwe said government was tired with stories that Malawi is poor, hence engaging various stakeholders and development partners in programs like FARMSE to change people's living conditions in rural areas.
"This program goes a long way in reducing poverty, improving livelihoods and enhancing the resilience of rural households on a sustainable basis.
"The broad objective of the program is to increase access to a wide range of sustainable financial services by rural households, small and medium enterprises," he said.
Gondwe observed that the program would target over half a million beneficiaries countrywide out of whom 50 percent would comprise women and the youth.
Speaking in an interview after the launch, Country Program Manager for International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Ambrosio Barros said the project will go a long way in bridging the gap on access to finance and resilience to climate change.
"We want smallholders to become real producers and real partners with bigger private partners," Barros whose organization is the major financier of the program said.
Barros said this was the third project in Malawi, noting that IFAD was also working on introducing another project soon. He did not give details.
FARMSE is a seven-year program whose overall goal is to reduce poverty, improve livelihoods and enhance the resilience of rural households on a sustainable basis.
The total cost of the programme is $57.7 m of which $21 million is a loan from IFAD while $21 million is a grant from the same IFAD, $9.6 million from the Government of Malawi and $6.1 from the private sector.