Banda delivers Malawi national ‘buffet’ to spur recovery

Malawian President Joyce Banda told Parliament in the capital Lilongwe on Friday that the country needed at least one year for its economy to recuperate.

The President was opening the 2012/2013 National Budget session and also delivered her first State of the Nation Address.

In her two-hour plus moving speech, President Banda said her five-week old administration was committed to unlocking the economic potential the country has to overcome the current hardships Malawians are experiencing.

President Banda delivering State of the Nation address. Photo: Fallys Ngalauka/Nyasa Times

She said in the meantime, government was dealing with the issue forex shortage as a matter of supreme urgency.

In this regard, the president reminded Malawians that immediately after taking over government, she opened negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States on Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in order to unlock millions of funds which were withheld.

The US suspended a $350 million grant meant to improve the country’s energy sector due to governance issues by the previous regime of late President Bingu wa Mutharika.

The MCC is a US government body that assists developing countries that commit to standards on democracy and basic rights.

The 62-year-old Malawi leader also said she had a dream to steer people’s development agenda that conquers poverty.

She said unity, equity and development was the seal of her administration as she strives to mitigate the challenges the country is country facing.

Among the challenges, President Banda mentioned the need to create wealth for every Malawian.

Banda also hinted that the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) II and the nine priority areas will remain part and parcel of her development endeavours.

Among other highlight, President Banda said her government will revamp air transport and reduce fairs in and outside Malawi.

She also said government is working on determining future of cash strapped national flag carrier Air Malawi.

President Banda also pointed out that her government strongly believes that the private sector has a significant role to play in road and air transport, announcing that her administration “will revamp rail transport to reduce coasts.”

She said Malawi government last December signed a $1 billion deal with Brazil’s Vale for the construction and rehabilitation of a rail line that will transport 18 million tonnes of coal from Mozambique.

It is expected that the Brazilian company will employ 4,500 workers of which 70 percent will be Malawians.

The Malawi leader said government wants private sector driven growth, empowering small businesses.

She also said government will introduce mining programmes into academia and technical colleges.

President Banda told Parliament that she was “pleased to report” that mining sector is now contributing 10% of Gross Domestic Product, from 1% in 2009.

“We are now mining rare earth, niobium, uranium, and soon gold,” she said.

President Banda said more mining companies will be coming to Malawi and that government will undertake airborne geophysical survey.

Other highlights  as tweeted by Dr Steve Sharra

  • President Banda announced that her government will abolish quota system in university selection and start work with private universities to increase intake.
  • Government will fast track e-government to manage ICT infrastructure for rural areas
  • To establish Malawi Diaspora office in Ministry of Foreign Affairs to harness talents of Malawians living abroad
  • Major conference on tourism coming up, to develop tourism in Malawi.
  • Promote film industry, universities to teach and research Malawian history and beam to World
  • Government has reversed decision to move new stadium from Lilongwe to Blantyre. Will be built in Lilongwe
  •  A committee of chiefs with 50 women representation to champion the issue of maternal health.
  • Government to distribute 5 million mosquito bed nets with support from government of Cuba,
  • Government will establish Public Health Institute to strengthen governance of health sector
  • Construction of Karonga-Chitipa road expected to be completed end of 2012; progress affected by forex problems
  • 300 boreholes to be rehabilitated in Mchinji with Japanese’s JICA funding; more boreholes rehabilitated
  • Government working on computerising border posts to ensure security
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