Malawi President Peter Mutharika has said his administration has made a “strong foundation” in transforming the nation since taking over power last year, saying there are “enough reasons” to celebrate the gains made so far.
Mutharika, who disclosed that Malawi expects its economy to grow by 5.4 percent this year, even after the country was hit by devastating floods and dry spells that damaged tobacco and corn crops, was speaking Tuesday during a state of the nation address to lawmakers in the capital, Lilongwe.
The President said he is fulfilling promises he made when he entered government in May last year by introducing public sector reforms and strengthening public finance management to avoid a recurrence of cashgate.
“I am particularly delighted because we are already delivering on our promises before the first anniversary of my Administration,” said Mutharika.
“True to my manifesto promise, I appointed and have maintained a lean Cabinet of 20 members including the President and Vice President.
“I am proud to report that the lean Cabinet has so far performed well and achieved its main objective of minimizing Government expenditure and we have already significantly reduced the powers of the presidency by transferring some departments from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to relevant ministries.”
He said: “Mr. Speaker, Sir, I believe that as a nation we have enough reasons to celebrate the gains that we have achieved in the past twelve months.
“ With the strong foundation we have laid, I can confidently say that the agenda to transform this country is on course.”
Mutharika told the House that the southern African nation’s growth would rebound in 2016, reaching 6.5 percent, saying his government would pursue policies that seek to curb inflation and reduce the balance of payment deficit.
On transformation agenda of his administration, Mutharika said his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has also taken steps to strengthen debt management practices and restructure repayment of outstanding arrears to suppliers in order to ease pressure on the budget and give Government room for other priority expenditures.
“Government will also avoid further accumulation of arrears through strict expenditure control measures,” said Mutharika.
He also said his government will endeavour to reduce its fiscal deficit to levels below the internationally acceptable threshold of 3 percent of GDP, in order to reduce pressure on domestic borrowing and interest rates.
“This will be supported by Government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation and foreign borrowing through loans obtained on concessional terms,” said the Malawi leader.
He said: “Mr. Speaker, Sir, the 2015/2016 budget will reflect a prudent fiscal stance whereby all recurrent transactions will be largely financed by domestically generated resources with a modest net domestic borrowing of about 1.1 percent of GDP.”
The Malawi leader also disclosed that government will also introduce the Programme Based Budgeting (PBB) in the short to medium term, in line with the ongoing Public Sector Reforms.
“This budgeting approach will ensure that ministries and departments report on achievement of results under specific programmes that are aligned to their strategic objectives as a prerequisite for funding,” said Mutharika.
DPP and Mutharika will mark one year in office later this month.
The President said Malawians should be “fully involved” and take part in the efforts to take the country to greater heights.
“As a nation, we must unite and join hands to accelerate the gains that we have made so far as we work to transform our beloved country,” he appealed.
He commended cooperating partners, Non Governmental Organisations, Civil Society Organisations, the Private Sector, religious and traditional leaders and all Malawians for the role they play in the implementation of Government programmes.
Mutharika also commended the Leader of Opposition Lazarous Chakwera and all lawmakers for “the critical role that you play in the development of our country.”
The President officially opened the parliament meeting which will run until July 3 or MPs to discuss and pass the 2015/16 national budget.
So far, only African Development Bank plans to provide the government with about K8 billion in budgetary support. Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe is expected to present his budget statement on Friday, May 22 and he has estimated that it will be pegged at K900 billion (about $2.1 billion).
- Read Mutharika full address here: State of the Nation Address