President Peter Mutharika received praise from Malawi’s major donors for his shortest 25-minute State of the Nation Address (Sona) which he delivered Friday morning during the opening of the 46 Session of Parliament demanding resilience amid economic crisis .
The speech — themed as Building Resilience for Sustainable Development — saw Mutharika warn that hard times should teach Malawians hard lessons for lasting solutions.
“The tougher the times, the tougher we must be. And we can turn our challenges into stepping stones for building a resilient economy,” Mutharika said.
Donors in quotes attributed to them in The Nation, said Mutharika made a frank and sincere assessment of the country’s situation.
US Ambassador Virginia Palmer who described the speech as “short and sweet’ but also frank, said she expects Mutharika’s administration to do” three basic things; the reform of the FISP, sticking with IMF targets and full implementation of the public sector reforms that are prerequisite to the IMF programme and the resumption of the EU budget support and the coming in on board of the World Bank.”
British High Commissioner Michael Nevin said the speech presented “a realistic picture of the situation in the country” which he said is good for Malawi.
On Mutharika’s stipulated goal of economic independence , Nevin said the donor community in Malawi, are still giving over 1 billon dollars to Capital Hill, but stated that so cooperating partners “want to move to a position where that amount is reducing because Malawi is able to stand on its own feet.”
The British diplomat said to do that “you have to create the right environment for trade and investments. He also explained about much better control of expenditure, clamp down on fraud, the path is correct but let’s walk that path.”
Germany ambassador Peter Woeste said congratulated Mutharika “for making definitely probably the shortest speech I have ever been able to witness.”
The Germany diplomat noted that Mutharika mentioned that the government will table two important bills, the Access to Information and Land Bill “ which is a great way forward. “
Woeste noted that the Malawi leader “gave a great analysis of the current situation in the country but did not provide much of a way forward but give me much time to analyse the speech.”
World Bank Country Representative Laura Kullenberg, said Mutharika’s SONA was “frank” which was “focused on the challenges facing the country,” citing reforms, public financial management and emphasis of prudence as crucial areas.
Kullenberg said one statement resonated very strongly: “on the fifty year mark, our children will never forgive us, if we continue wasting time.”
EU ambassador Marchel German commented on Mutharika’s call for economic independence, saying : “The reality is that in Malawi there will still be the need for quite a bit of assistance but over time Malawi needs to graduate and move to trade and investment agenda but what is important is to have the right policies are being implemented.”
IMF representative Geoffrey Oestreicher is quoted saying Mutharika’s speech acknowledged there is some “catch up to do” for the IMF programme to get back on track and indicated Mutharika understands what needs to be done.
“ It was positive that he made reference to the need to regain fiscal discipline, keep the monetary policy at the appropriate stance and move forcefully with reforms to safeguard public resources, I am emboldened by what I have heard,” said Oestreicher as quoted by The Nation.
In his speech, Mutharika said “Malawians must understand the changing times we live in. We must work and endure our painful path to economic sovereignty. And we must do what it takes to end the suffering of our people.”
Malawi, which has a population of over 16 million, has seen inflation standing at 24.1 percent, 2.8 million people facing hunger and the local currency ceding more than 30 percent of its value to the dollar in the second and third quarters this year.
On Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) raised the cost of borrowing (base lending rate) to 27 from 25. Current economic projections — real GDP growth — were revised downward by the bank this week from 5 to 3 percent for 2015, and 4.5 percent for 2016.
Malawi’s International Monetary Fund programme is also currently off-track due to massive corruption in government where about $100 million was lost in a scandal dubbed “Cashgate”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :