Ambassador Palmer Speaks to ICAM
Ambassador Palmer delivered the keynote address at the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Malawi’s annual dinner on Friday, May 29, where she told members that they play an integral role in Malawi’s economic development by promoting accountability among public and private organizations. “Transparency and accountability are not just a matter of personal and professional integrity,” she said, “they are also an economic imperative.” She said that if the Public Sector Reforms are fully implemented – “if there is a change in mindset so that all government officials understand their first responsibility is to serve the people of Malawi, and the citizens of Malawi understand the obligations of that citizenship” – domestic and international investors will start bringing their money to the table, creating jobs and prosperity.
Investors, she said, look for predictability of economic fundamentals and government policies, availability of skilled labor and raw materials, and access to capital and markets. She said that Malawi does very well in many of these areas, but some challenges remain. For example, when the majority of the people are engaged in agriculture, but that sector produces only 30 percent of GDP, there is a need to turn the sector into an economic driver. She encouraged the Government of Malawi to consider policies that will enable farmers to get a fair price for the crops they produce, for example lifting export bans and licensing regimes.
She also encouraged efforts to improve access to finance; achieve reliable electricity supply; increase the labor force’s skills through basic and technical education; and make it easy for Malawi-based firms to access regional and global markets by facilitating trade across Malawi’s borders.