JB maintains frequent travels beneficial to Malawi, oppressive laws repealed

Malawian President Joyce Banda has  acknowledged that she’s been making  frequent foreign and local trips in the short time she’s been in office, but insists they the trips were beneficial to the country and that most of them were sponsored by organisations and countries which extended the invitation.

Banda, who was sworn in after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012, explained this after members of Public Affairs Committee (PAC)—the most respected umbrella organisation for the major faith communities represented in the country—met the President on Thursday at Kamuzu Palace in the capital, Lilongwe where the religious grouping voiced out several concerns, including frequent travels and bad laws.

PAC observed that President Banda has made frequent trips during her year in office. trips – usually with a large contingent of officials.

According to Presidential Press Officer, Banda informed PAC that it was a necessity for her to make the trips she made noting that she was aware that the recovery of the economy was directly linked to her foreign policy.

 President Banda on her recent working visit  to US
President Banda on her recent working visit to US

The Malawi leader, who faces elections in May next year, said she needed to articulate her vision and lobby for support and investment for the country to recover.

“And indeed she is proud that in the past year, her Government has generated more than US$1 billion in grants and loans; and more than US$820 million of investment projects have been approved by Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC),” Nhlane said in a statement e-mailed to Nyasa Times.

“The official foreign exchange reserves now stand at 2.5 months against 1 month in June 2012. The banking system as a whole now boasts of 3.7 months of foreign exchange reserves against 1.9 months last year.”

She told the clergy: “My Government has cleared all import arrears. Industrial production has increased from 30 percent last year to 75 percent this year. These are no mean achievements. “

President Banda also highlighted that most of these trips were self-financing and therefore less demanding on the country’s budget.

The Head of State further observed that she does not have the luxury that other Presidents had where they had five years to implement their programmes and thereafter face the elections.
She noted that she only had 24 months to recover the economy, demonstrate visible achievements to Malawians and lay a foundation for growth; thereafter face an election, saying “these cannot be done by a hands folded and a desk chained President.”

The President also observed that as Head of State, she had a duty to explain her policies and programmes to the people in the rural areas, appreciate their conditions and share in their pain and assure them of the hope as the economy was going through reform.

PAC publicity secretary, Rev. Fr. Peter Mulomole, who was also leader of delegation, confirmed that the issues raised with the President included a number of bad laws that were enacted during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Government.

PAC in 2012 urged the new administration to repeal most of these laws. They noted that some laws have been repealed while others are still with the Law Commissioner.

In her response, the President acknowledged that indeed there were a number of “bad laws” passed by the DPP Government. She  highlighted a number of laws that have already been repealed and also some which are being reviewed by the Law Commission which include Section 46 of the Penal Code (Cap7:01); the Civil Procedure (Suits by or Against the Government and Public Officers) (Amendment Act, 2011); the local Courts Act, 2011; and Section 35 of the Police Act, 2010.

The President further reminded PAC of a number of laws that have either been amended or enacted not only in political governance but also in improving doing business. These laws include: Business Licensing Act, Business Registration Act and Companies Act (Amendment) and Investment and Export Promotion Act.

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