State-of-the Nation-Address in full

Mr. Speaker,

Sir, my Address this year is on delivering sustainable development. This is the title of my Address. My message is simple. We have delivered to the people, and we will continue delivering.

Mutharika: delivers his speech in Parliament on Friday

This month, four years ago – we were speaking of a broken economy, stagnated projects and smashed hopes. Today, we have the economy fixed, confidence regained, projects moving, and hope rising. Those of us who are proud of our nation should celebrate our economic efforts as a country. We all know that nothing works when the economy doesn’t work. And we know that a working economy is the beginning of a prospering nation.

The question is not whether Malawi is developing or not. The question is: which way is Malawi developing? Every time I come to address this house, we all want to know the policy direction we are taking this country.

On this day, we all ask: where is our country coming from? We all ask: in what state is our country? And we all ask: what is our government doing?

As we ask what Government is doing, let us also ask what role each one of us is playing in developing our nation. Let us examine our responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, in this country, many people do not want to distinguish politics from development. We are a nation that carries our politics too far to the point of destroying development.

There are people whose only dream is aspiring to destroy this country. For example, the recent demonstrations were planned to trigger riots which was to lead to breaking and burning of property.

They wanted to create a state of chaos, panic and fear to make Malawi ungovernable. While we are rebuilding the economy, there are people who think of destroying it. This is unacceptable.

We enjoy our freedom of expression. But our political freedom must never bring disorder in this country. We want to develop this country.

There are people who cannot respect the principles of our governance. Our respect for governance must begin with our respect for this august House. We cannot be Parliamentarians who make laws in this House and go out to demonstrate against our own laws. This spirit of lawlessness cannot be accepted.

While you and I are making every effort to build confidence in Malawians, there are people whose job is creating hopelessness in the people. There are people whose job is discouraging Malawians who want to work for their lives and for this nation.

This must stop because we are destroying our own country. Destroying the self-confidence of the people is destroying the country. Let us learn to be proud of our efforts as a nation. We can differ on politics, but we must agree and unite on developing this nation.

The first point that we need to be proud of is what we have done in macro-economic performance. Indeed, let me proceed to outline our macro-economic outlook.

Macro-economic Outlook

Mr. Speaker, Sir, our macro-economic outlook is very bright. Nobody says we have achieved economic perfection. Nobody should say we don’t have challenges.

But we agree that there is now a clear sense of economic direction and that we can count our achievements as a nation.

In general, we have achieved macro-economic stability, inflation reduction and a rebound in economic growth. The International Monetary Fund has just given us a vote of confidence.

This week, the IMF has approved a new Extended Credit Facility for the next three years. This means the IMF is satisfied with our economic management. Mr. Speaker, Sir, Honourable Members! We are making history.

In 2014, we had a deficit that nearly equaled our annual national budget. It has taken us three years to turn around the economy from the devastation of cashgate, and through national disasters of floods, drought and hunger.

Four years ago, inflation was at 24 per cent. Today, we have delivered a single digit inflation. Four years ago, interest rates were at 25 per cent. Today, interest rates are at 16 per cent. We have taken our foreign currency import cover from the lowest point to the highest point in our economic history. From an import cover of below 2 months, our import cover now stands at 6 months. Our local currency is now stable and predictable.

In these few years, we have taken GDP Growth Rate from 2.4 percent. In 2018, we expect growth to be at 4 per cent. In 2019, we expect growth to rise to 6 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, this House may ask: is our economic performance benefiting our people? The answer is yes! Our progress does not mean all people are economically equal. That does not happen anywhere on earth. The point is: there are signs of progress with more people participating in the economy to create their own opportunities.

With the state of our economy, our business community find it easier to access forex for smooth cross-border trade. For two years now, prices of fuel have not risen. Consumers tell us prices of many goods in shops and fares of buses have been stable.

There is more business in construction materials because Malawians are building more than ever – and you can see this all around us. Malawians are buying more cars than ever because more and more people can afford a car. You can see the rising population of vehicles on our roads. You can see the rising demand for fuel as new filling stations are rising everywhere.

In our villages, you can see more men and women constructing modern houses with iron-sheets. In our communities, you can see young men buying motorbikes because now they can afford.

These motorbikes are transforming the transport system in rural communities.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, whether we like it or not, whether we have chosen to see or not to see – there is a quiet economic revolution slowly happening among our own people while we watch.

With a growing economy, revenue grows; and with growing revenue, we can do more for our people using our own national resources.

Within the means of our resources, we are delivering more roads to the people; delivering new desks to our schools and delivering rural electricity to various trading centres and communities.

We have delivered a new road to the people of Kasiya and Santhe with our own resources. We are delivering a road to the people of Njakwa, Livingstonia and Chitimba with our revenue. In June, we are starting the road from Rumphi to Nthalire and Chitipa via Nyika National Park with our local resources. This is what happens when an economy is growing.With our resources, we are delivering new infrastructure in our universities.

This year, we will do more to collect more revenue and deliver more services. We expect to implement broad-based tax reforms that foster a simple, efficient, transparent and fair tax system. At the same time, we expect to increase salaries of our civil servants as a motivation across the board. Mr. Speaker, Sir, let me now turn to Agriculture. We are heavily investing in irrigation because this is what will make us a resilient economy. We want to be an economy of all seasons, an economy that stands against climate fluctuations.

We are transforming agriculture by moving from subsistence to commercial farming. In order to achieve this goal, we are implementing the Malawi Agricultural Commercialisation Project. We will select and focus on crops for value chains. We will form cooperatives in order to create productive alliances and value addition chains.

We are also implementing the Agricultural Sector-Wide Approach Programme. Our goal is to enable small-holder farmers to have access to investment capital and markets.

As part of this program, we plan to construct 4,000 kilometers of roads in order to enable our farming communities access markets. This work began in March. As I speak, 40 contractors are already on the ground upgrading rural access roads and building bridges in various communities.

We are also in the process of delivering the Nthola-Ilola-Ngosi Irrigation Scheme to the people of Karonga. We are developing Nchalo Irrigation Scheme. More investors are coming to develop new farms and increase value addition. For example, a new farm in Chapananga is investing in aquaculture and production of biofuels from bamboos. This is innovative.

We have a major Greenbelt project on smart irrigation farming targeting 24,000 hectares. Investors are set to partner with Nchalo Farmers’ Association.

Finally, we are implementing the Shire Valley Transformation irrigation programme. This programme covers about 40,000 hectares. This is our project – funded by a loan from World Bank. By August, we should start constructing intake canals.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, the complete picture of our irrigation program says one thing. Malawi’s irrigation programme is going to be the biggest irrigation program in the Southern Africa Region.

MINING DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Speaker, Sir, in recognition of the huge potential the mining sector has on the country’s economic growth and development, Government has been implementing a number of initiatives aimed at increasing investments in the sector.

Some of the initiatives include: capacity building in mining contract negotiation and in development of modern mining agreements. We want ensure that we enter into mining agreements that are balanced, equitable, fair and beneficial to the people.

We have also adopted a regionally competitive Mining Fiscal Regime. This will ensure that investors will have confidence in the sector. Increased investment in mining will result in job creation and more revenue for social and economic growth.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are reviewing the Mines and Minerals Act of 1981 and the Petroleum Act of 1983. We want to improve the legal environment of the mining industry to enhance development of the sector and increase its benefits to the people.

The Bills are expected to be tabled in this sitting of Parliament.

PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT, INDUSTRY AND TRADE

Infrastructure development

Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are moving Malawi from aid to trade. For us to realize this, we are promoting Foreign Direct Investment.

We need to have bigger private sector and a smaller Government that is efficient. We need private sector investment for job creation and an expanded revenue base.

The Foreign Direct Investment program is now paying off. We now have a textile company being established in Salima. This company will eventually produce yarn and cloth for export to China, India, United States, South Africa and other countries.

We have also seen the coming of business parks in Lilongwe and Blantyre besides other investments.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have one appeal to Malawians. Let us be creative and innovative in our business spirit. Malawi has a lot of products that are rated among the best in other countries.

What we need is to brand them with the best pride of Malawi. Chambo is known to be one of the best tasty fish in the region.

Kilombero rice and our macadamia nuts are very well known in countries like Scotland. These are only some examples. Let us brand our products as the best of Malawi.

INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT

Mr. Speaker, Sir, let me now speak about integrated rural development. Our goal is to take development to the people instead of taking people to development. Malawians in rural areas should not be going to the city in search of opportunities and a higher quality of life. Let us take opportunities to the communities. People in rural areas also deserve a high quality of life. That is why we are building rural roads, developing rural growth centres, constructing stadiums, providing rural electricity and taking the internet fibre optic backbone to the people.

In the 2017/18 financial year, we have delivered the Nthalire Rural Growth Centre to the people of Chitipa. It is now ready for handover to Chitipa District Council for operations.

We have delivered Nambuma Rural Growth Centre to the people of Dowa. To complete the work, we have designs in place for the Dowa- Nambuma road. The road will be constructed using fuel levy.

We have delivered Malomo Rural Growth Centre in Ntchisi. For easy access to the centre, we have advertised for contractors for Malomo-Ntchisi Road. The project will be funded by fuel levy.

We have delivered Jenda Rural Growth Centre and it is now ready for handover to M’belwa District Council.

We are finalizing Mkanda Rural Growth Centre in Mchinji. We will hand it over the to the people of Mchinji within 2018. We have also started constructing a tarmac road to Mkanda.

In addition, we are finalizing works on Chitekesa Rural Growth Centre in Phalombe and Chapananga Rural Growth Centre in Chikwawa.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, let me talk about stadiums we are constructing in rural areas. These facilities are important. Ask the youth and they will tell you their value to us as a society.

Sports is the pride of our country and we need to support it

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DEVELOPMENTS IN THYOLO NOT OTHER DISTRICTS —
MANY PROMISES NOT FULFILLED IN THE NORTH AND CENTRAL !!

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