Malawi President, Ministers cut salary by 10 percent for COVID-19 fight

Malawi President Arthur Peter Mutharika on Saturday evening issued a directive to the treasury to reduce his salary and that of cabinet ministers and deputies by 10 percent for three months and channel the resources towards the fight against coronavirus.

This has come after the country has registered fourth case of coronavirus in the southern City of Blantyre after the first three cases were confirmed in the capital City of Lilongwe on the second of April.

“Fellow Malawians, on second April, I announced that we now have confirmed cases of Coronavirus disease. The virus has attacked us. Now we have fourth confirmed case in Blantyre.

“An attack on one of us is an attack on us all. This is an attack we must all fight. Either we unite and fight, or we perish. As some of the measures, I direct the Ministry of finance through treasury to reduce salary of the president and cabinet ministers by 10 percent and channel the resources towards the COVID-19 fight,” he said

The President further announced new preventative and cushioning measures to ensure the local citizenly are protected from the deadly disease.

Among other important measures include the directive to Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) to reduce fuel by 10 percent to ensure transportation is not too costly especially to commuters.

Bus and taxi fares went too high by over a 100 percent after the Minister of Transport announced of the reduction of capacity of passengers.

The president has also issued a directive to the Ministry of Health to recruit 2,000 health workers to assist in the fight of the pandemic, as well as an increase of risk allowances to them saying the welfare and safety is paramount.

Economy

On economy of the country, the President has directed the Reserve bank to implement a win-win arrangement with commercial banks and micro-finance institutions to observe three month moratorium on interest and principal repayment for all loans contracted by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

Through this arrangement, the President said the banks will be encouraged to restructure loans in order to extend repayment period to more than a year.

The President further said government will activate Emergency Liquidity Assistance framework to support banks on case by case basis.

“The coronavirus has a huge impact on the economy and business everywhere. There are many business people and industry players who are uncertain about the situation as it unfolds.

“Therefore government will take measures to protect jobs and income , protect businesses and ensure continuity of the supply chain and the survival of the economy—-and increase Malawi Enterprise Development Fund loans from MK13 billion(USD17million) to MK15billion (about USD19million),” he said

Decongestion Measures

The President has further directed Malawi Prison services and juvenile centres to present a list of prisoners who committed petty offences and those who have served a portion of their sentences for moderate crimes to the Minister of Homeland Security for processing of their release.

Earlier in the week, Malawi Minister of Health Jappie Mhango said government is committed to ensure there are serious surveillance on the border points and all other unchartered routes and urged Traditional leader’s in border districts to take an active role to combat the malpractice.

Executive director for Malawi Health Equity Network, George Jobe commended Mutharika for recruiting health workers saying it will ease pressure currently experienced in the public hospitals.

“This is a good development because the Malawi health sector has a vacancy rate of 52 percent, with the most hit being pharmacy Technicians currently at 79 percent.

“However, we wish government recruited all the health workers who graduated and are just staying at home,” said Jobe

Coronavirus has killed nearly 40,000 people across the globe.

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