Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has announced that he and his cabinet will take a 10% salary cut in order to redirect the money towards the fight against the coronavirus.
He also announced a number of measures aimed at assisting small and medium-sized businesses, including tax-breaks, a reduction in fuel prices and an increase in risk allowances for health workers.
Mutharika also ordered tobacco markets to be opened and allowed to operate without disruption to protect small farmers and bolster foreign currency receipts. Tobacco is Malawi’s chief foreign currency earner.
“The coronavirus attack has a huge negative impact on the economy and businesses everywhere. There are many business people and industry players who are uncertain about the situation as it is unfolding. I know that everyone is worried,” he said. “Therefore, government will take measures to protect jobs and incomes, protect businesses and ensure continuity of the supply chain and the survival of the economy.”
Mutharika also directed the Reserve Bank of Malawi to allow banks to offer a three-month moratorium on interest payments on loans to small-and medium-sized businesses, among other measures. He also ordered strict monitoring of price controls at all stores.
Malawi only has four cases of COVID-19, but the government has already ordered all non-essential workers to work from home with immediate effect until further notice.
In the video below, is an interview on Malawi’s first COVID-19 cases:
The President also directed the central bank to “cushion the foreign exchange market to ensure availability of forex of the foreign exchange rate,” and work on an emergency liquidity assistance framework to support banks in the event of worsening liquidity conditions.
The government will also increase loans under the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund that will help micro, small and medium scale businesses that have been seriously affected by the pandemic to 15 billion Malawi kwacha ($20.69 million) from 12billion kwacha.