President Joyce Banda has reiterated her government has designed a number of measures to cushion poor people from the effects of the economic challenges that the country is experiencing.
“One of such measures is the Public Works Programme within the wider Social Support Package of the Economic Recovery Plan. The Public Works Programme, as most of you know, is intended to mitigate against the unintended negative socio-economic effects brought about by several factors,” said the President in Bangwe Township, Blantyre after she officially launch the Public Works Programme for the urban and semi-urban areas.
The Government of Malawi has allocated MK10.6 billion to be used under the Public Works Programme within the 2012/2013 fiscal year. Over 80 percent of these resources will go directly towards assisting poor households to purchase food, subsidized farm inputs and other consumption and investment needs of their households.
According to the President, MK2.7 billion has already been used as cash transfers to the communities in all the Local Councils across the country. She said government will be making further transfers of similar magnitude to the Councils in January, 2013 and also in March and April, 2013.
The Head of State said she recognizes that there are many poor people in the urban areas who are severely affected by economic challenges in situations like that of Malawi now. The urban poor have got fewer or no coping mechanisms or relatives to look up to when faced with economic challenges, she observed.
“It is in view of this that my government has not only extended the Public Works Programme to benefit the urban poor but also increased the amount of money for the Public Works Programme for the urban areas.
“Beyond making the much-needed cash transfers to the intended beneficiaries, the Public Works Programme is also contributing to the improvement of the socio-economic services to the communities by improving, among other things, access roads to schools, markets and other services, irrigation farming, land conservation, health and sanitation and afforestation,” said President Banda.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Grace Maseko thanked the President for her visionary leadership that had seen her helping the needy as is the case with the cash transfer programme as well as the food donations.
The minister said the Public Works Programme for the urban and semi-urban areas will cover the whole country but that in Blantyre, it would cover all townships including Bangwe, Ndirande, Chilomoni, Zingwangwa, Machinjiri, Kachere and Chilobwe, among others.
After she launched the programme, the President toured the Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA) factory before proceeding to the venue of the rally at Bangwe Desert Ground.