Government to benefit from COP-COMESA forum on knowledge sharing

Government has said it is giving special attention to the regional knowledge sharing forum on trade facilitation, business environment and public finance management as the three areas are central to the country’s development efforts.

Chief Secretary to the Government, George Mkondiwa made the remarks on Thursday at the opening of COP-COMESA Knowledge sharing forum at BICC in Lilongwe.

He said Malawi as a country has continued to adopt trade facilitation legislation by improving customs clearance procedures and transport links between the Ports of Beira and Nacala in Mozambique, and the immediate destinations in Malawi.

Mkondiwa further disclosed that Malawi has recently introduced COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS), which aims at assisting both private and public sector institutions in COMESA member states, to monitor and manage transportation of cargo, saying the new regulation will start from October 1, this year.

“With regard to the business environment, Malawi keeps improving its ranking in World Bank Doing Business classification. The country improved from rank 144 in 2015 to 141 in 2016. This is a result of the public sector reforms which were launched by President Peter Mutharika in February.

“Malawi made starting a business easier by streamlining company name search and registration and by eliminating the requirement for inspection of company premises before issuance of a business licence. Similarly, in public finance management, the Government of Malawi is taking the necessary steps to improve domestic resource mobilization, increase accountability for the use of sound public finance system,” the Chief Secretary highlighted.

He added: “Managing for Development Results (MfDR) has emerged as a centrepiece of global efforts to improve the effectiveness of public delivery, enhance government performance and expand accountability. This year, Malawi Government embarked on the AfCoP-MfDR roadmap to mainstream MfDR principles into its governance principles.”

Representing Secretary of the African Capacity Building Foundation, Director of Knowledge Monitoring and Evaluation Dr. Thomas Munthali said Malawi was chosen to host the forum because the country was making progress in some areas on the meeting’s agenda.

“In public finance management, you can see that Government has strengthened the financial system post Cashgate,” Dr. Munthali said.

He added: “A conducive business climate facilitated by sound public financial management policies is key. Identifying and building requisite capacities in managing for results in these areas is hence an area of concern for COMESA member countries.”

Dr. Munthali highlighted that with regional integration high on the list of priorities for African countries, making markets more accessible is of paramount importance.

“One of the key push factors for regional economic integration is to improve cross-border trade and movement of skills within the region, as well as being able to speak with one voice in negotiating trade agreements with major global powers.

“Individual countries are often seen as too weak to get favourable deals in negotiations with big powers – even under the aegis of the World Trade Organisation. Current thinking is that the domestication of regional directives must be prioritised if Africa is to continue ‘rising’.”

The meeting has brought together over 40 senior policy makers, managers and practitioners from COMESA members states (Burundi, Union of Comoros, Congo DRC, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Sudan, Swaziland, Seychelles, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe), experts from COMESA secretariats, ACBF and AfDB.

Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA