JB says Malawi Development Bank to be set up to empower youth

Malawi President Mrs. Joyce Banda on Wednesday met in audience members of the Youth Consultative Forum (YCF) at Kamuzu Palace in the capital Lilongwe, to discuss how the youth could contribute to Malawi’s economic recovery and disclosed a bank will be set up to help youths get loans.

The audience with the President accorded the YCF members an opportunity to share youths’ aspirations and to understand government agenda for youths and entire nation.

The YCF also used the meeting to praise JB for appointing youth as members of boards and for appointing the National Youth Council Board which had not been in place since 2009.

President Banda explained the government’s Economic Recovery Plan, noting that the five priority sectors of mining, tourism, agriculture, infrastructure and energy were chosen because of their ability to create jobs and wealth in Malawi.

The President encouraged the YCF to hold the government to account for delivery of the Plan, noting that she had set up a Project Implementation Unit to monitor progress, as well as holding weekly delivery meetings with her Ministers, which began on Monday.

Speaking to the youth, President Banda said that they were “the backbone and cream of our nation”.

She added that youth empowerment “cannot be postponed” and that her government is formulating youth-friendly policies and programmes to ensure that youths actively and meaningfully contribute to the social and economic development of the country.

President Banda urged on the youth to ensure discipline, honesty, integrity and dignity. The President also encouraged the youth to be entrepreneurial so that when they come out of school, they should not necessarily look for employment but rather start their own businesses.

Addressing the specific points raised by the YCF the President disclosed that cabinet had agreed that a Malawi Development Bank be set up, which will be an economic window for the youth, women and farmers, among others.

She also revealed that a National Planning Commission would soon be set up after consultations with relevant stakeholders, which would be responsible for overall planning of major national projects.

The President noted that projects conceptualized by politicians have proved difficult to fully implement in the light of change of governments. She pledged that the youths shall have adequate representation on the Commission to accommodate their aspirations.

Banda also endorsed the proposal of a Presidential Youth Advisory Council and declared the day’s dialogue as its inaugural meeting. In response to a request by the YCF, the Minister for Youth also committed that the National Youth Policy would be reviewed by Cabinet by January.

Chairperson of YCF Stabene Majamanda  assured President Banda that youth in the country are determined  to assist government revolutionize socio-economic development by getting fully involved in activities that are geared towards achieving ideal economy and development.

President Banda receives communique from youth

“We have an ideal concept that requires us to drive social- economic activities throughout the country; and achieve a sustainable economic development, both in the rural and urban areas.”

During  discussions with President Banda, YCF members also suggested that government invests much trust in youth activities and ensure that there is a reliable policy scrutinised and passed by the members of Parliament, according to Majamanda.

The YCF delegation was led by Minister of Youth and Sports, Enoch Chihana. The Secretary for Youth and Culture, Alexander Mseka also attended the meeting.

The meeting follows a recommendation made during the YLC, which took place on October 10, 2012 at Baptist Theological Seminary in Lilongwe where it was suggested that the members meet President Banda graciously accepted the request to meet the members.

 The YCF recommended to Her Excellency that:

Government should expedite the process of adopting the National Youth Policy, which has been under review for over 5 years (since 2007).  They observed that the National Youth Policy would create an enabling legislative and policy environment for meaningful youth participation and empower youths to demand and track their development entitlements at all levels.

Government should involve youths in decision and policy making processes and structures such as the Parastatal Boards and Commissions. They observed that meaningful youth involvement will help in mentoring young leaders and to effectively mainstream youth voices and actions in development programming and the nation would benefit directly from the skills, energies and creativity by the youth.

Government should prioritise meaningful youth participation in agribusiness by providing the necessary skills and tools of production- farm inputs and capital. The support for the agribusiness will help create jobs and generate foreign exchange necessary for economic growth. Agriculture will remain the main source of economic growth in the foreseeable future.

Government should expand the Public/Private Partnerships in the provision of tertiary education focussing of relevant vocational and entrepreneurship skills particularly focusing on the youth that cannot access tertiary education because of limited space in public institutions and high tuition fees in Private education institutions.

Government should increase funding to youth development programmes and build the capacity of youth leaders and organisations to provide the necessary development leadership at the community and national levels.

Government should completely depoliticize the youth sector and curb discrimination based on political party affiliations, ethnic, regional and religious backgrounds, for example, there is need to recover YEDEF and University Education Loans without considering political implications.

Support youth-led initiatives that can promote innovation and creativity in addressing political, economic and social challenges facing Malawi.

The YCF also informed the Presidential that they intend to participate in and support the Voluntary Youth Service Week scheduled for 3-9 December 2012 during which youths from across the nation will freely provide their time, skills and even resources to participate in community and charity work.

Chihana and Mseka at the meeting

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