19 August 2019
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STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

Written by  Office of President and Cabinet
President Peter Mutharika Inaugurates 48th session  of Parliament on Friday President Peter Mutharika Inaugurates 48th session of Parliament on Friday

CONSOLIDATING OUR GAINS FOR RAPID TRANSFORMATION. STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS HIS EXCELLENCY PROFESSOR ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI On the occasion of the STATE OPENING OF THE 1ST MEETING IN THE 48TH SESSION OF PARLIAMENT

Madam Speaker, we come to this house every five years to make decisions that define the destiny of this nation, our children and the generations to come.

It is a precious mission of every generation to decide the fortunes of its next generation.

The five years that we begin today shall be the time given to us to change this nation forever.

Together, we hold the power in our choices and decisions to build this nation.

This is our sacred duty as Members of Parliament. And for qualifying for this national duty, allow me Madam Speaker, to congratulate every Member of this Parliament. Congratulations!.

It is not by mistake that we are here. We all have accepted to be sworn in as Members of Parliament because we have accepted that we were legitimately, fairly and credibly elected. Nobody here disputes the results that brought you here.

Nobody disputes the Election that brought you here. We are here because we have accepted the will of the people.

And yet, Madam Speaker, I want to ask: why are we here? I ask this question for one reason.

It is wisdom that we must accept the past, in order to decide the present, and shape the future.

As I speak, the state of our nation demands that we must decide the present in order to determine the future of this country.

We have a past that brought us here. We must accept that past.

Twenty-five years ago, this nation made a decision that we shall be a democratic nation.

And that we shall have a democratic Parliament whose Members shall be democratically elected by the people.

We must accept that democracy.

This time, twenty-five years ago, we vowed that we shall never, never, ever accept politics of terror, brutalization and victimization of the people.

The majority of us rejected tyranny of the minority, politics of intimidation, and blood-thirsty politicians.

Since we voted on 21 May this year, I have heard political leaders calling for bloodshed. We have seen two innocent children killed.

We have seen innocent women stripped naked and beaten in public. We have seen our judges intimidated and justice threatened.

Is this the Malawi we want? We have seen head teachers evicted and their schools demolished because they administered polling centres where communities voted for candidates whom some people did not want.

Is this the democracy we agreed? I know two political leaders who discussed the possibility of exploding Kamuzu Stadium on the day of my Swearing-in Ceremony.

They must know that I know.

These two political leaders have tried to recruit mercenary militias from Al-Shabaab and the Congo war zone to come and create anarchy in this country.

Is this the leadership we want? I have warned this nation before.

That if we sit back in silence and watch this spirit growing, one day evil will rule this nation and take us ransom.

It only takes silence of the good people for evil to triumph.

I speak at a time when Malawi has been declared one of the most peaceful countries on earth. Malawi is the third most peaceful country in Africa.

But we cannot take peace for granted. Peace is delicate.

Peace is precious. When peace suffers, innocent people suffer. One thing I know.

We are peace lovers. But Malawians cannot be taken for granted.

I repeat, we cannot take Malawians for granted.

Malawians will jealously defend their peace if endangered.

This far, we have defended peace with peace. But that cannot be taken for granted either. Let me warn those inciting violence.

Those who attack peace should know that we shall pay any price, confront any danger, conquer any challenge to defend our precious peace.We shall defend every Malawian, protect every school child, save every life to defend this country.

Madam Speaker, As Members of Parliament, we have sworn before the Almighty God to defend this country and change the lives of the people.

That is why we are here. Malawians expect us to rise above our partisan interests for us to see a new horizon to which we take this country.

Our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters, farmers, fishermen, teachers, nurses, police officers, military officers; those vendors and minibus drivers, carpenters and tailors, men and women, and the Youth of this country expect us to rise above our differences and improve their lives.

But we can only develop this country and improve lives of the people who voted for us when there is peace and order.

Today, we begin a process of making financial and economic decisions that affect the lives of the people.

Our financial plan is based on the gains we have made in the last five years, the foundations we have set and the vision we are determined to achieve in the next five years.

It is against this background, Madam Speaker, that I have titled my address “Consolidating Our Gains for Rapid Transformation” Let me now turn to the major policies set to take Malawi from poverty to prosperity.

MACRO-ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT Madam Speaker, a good economy brings a better life to everybody.

And a good economy begins with a sound macro-economic environment. The story of the macro-economic foundations we set in the past five years is well known to us all.

These are the gains we want to consolidate in order to transform Malawi once and forever. We found the economy broken. And we fixed it.

We found the economy unstable. And we delivered a stable economy. 1 We found a declining economy on the verge of bankruptcy. We delivered a growing economy.

A growing economy creates jobs and we are creating jobs. We found our foreign reserves well below the international standards. We filled our reserves and made life easier for businesses.

We brought down a rising inflation from 27 per cent to a single digit.

Prices were too unstable for Malawians. And we stabilized prices for everyone. We found interest rates high and bank loans too expensive for Malawians. We brought down interest rates and made bank loans more affordable.

Let it go down in history that we achieved this economic rebound out of a crisis and without donor budgetary support. In the past five years, we have proven that it is possible to create economic autonomy for the country.

We have proven that we can create a growing economy and improve the quality of life for everyone.

In the next five years, we will create more economic autonomy by investing in production.

We will invest more in production in order to expand domestic resource mobilisation. Already, our economic outlook for the next one year looks bright. Our macro-economic indicators are positive.

In 2019, we estimate that the economy will grow by 5 percent.

This growth will primarily be driven by high growth in the agricultural sector. But it will also be supported by growth across the broader economy, including mining, information and communications, financial sector and other service industries.

Let me emphasise that in the next five years, we will prioritise business in mining.

The world needs us, and we need the world. Malawi is open for business on condition that our people must be the first to benefit.

On inflation, we expect the annual inflation to continue to decline and remain within single digit levels with an average of 8 percent. A continued stable macroeconomic environment should support our low inflation.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Extended Credit Facility Madam Speaker, since 2018, we have been implementing the third Extended Credit Facility (ECF) under the Macroeconomic Programme with the International Monetary Fund.

This program is worth US$112.3 million.

Thanks to the IMF because this three-year programme is entrenching macroeconomic stability and foster higher, more resilient and inclusive growth.We have this far received two disbursements and the third review is expected to be completed in September, 2019.

We are doing well with IMF and we hope to achieve yet another positive review.

Fiscal Policy Madam Speaker, I am delighted to report that our domestic revenue collection surpassed budgeted levels for the past five years.

This was due to the reforms that my Government implemented in taxes and other revenue collection measures. My Government will aggressively continue with the reforms to increase collection of domestic revenue.

In the next 5 years, my Government will create enough fiscal space to spearhead the development agenda. This will be done by focusing on reducing public debt, containing expenditure and dealing with fiscal slippages.

We will further consolidate systems that curb pilferages of public funds while allocating resources to priority areas.

We will seal all loopholes and ensure that whoever is found stealing Government funds in whatever form is brought to book.

We managed drug theft in hospitals and we can do it with Government funds. Madam Speaker, let us be innovative in sealing loopholes in Government.

We are going to harmonise all information management systems across the public service so that systems should be talking to each other.

MThe Intergrated Financial Management and Information System (IFMIS) must be linked to Reserve Bank of Malawi and the Procurement Authority while systems at Malawi Revenue Authority are linked to the Human Resource Management System.

If you try to steal in one part of Government, we will see you and catch you on the other side of Government because the systems are talking to each other.

Besides, this is also how we eliminate ghost workers. Ghost workers shall no longer have a place to hide.

Ghost workers must be in their graves. Let us all understand this – that Government is a trust of the people. Government is not, and should never be a free-for-all enterprise.

I expect the Office of the Chief Secretary to institute a disciplinary program that cultivates the right spirit of strict discipline in Government.

This spirit of discipline will support control of resources. We are determined to continue financing our national budget with domestic resources more than ever. I want Malawi to achieve our deserved economic autonomy as soon as we can.

This should be the goal for all of us. Let us all work together and work very hard to achieve our national economic autonomy.

We have proven that we can do it, and yes, we can do it! Monetary Policy Madam Speaker, the Government’s monetary policy aims at achieving price stability so as to support sound and sustainable economic growth.

In the past five years, however, my Government implemented its monetary policy in a challenging environment, as the economy experienced numerous shocks.

In response to such shocks, my Government pursued a tight monetary policy by maintaining the policy rate at 16 percent. In this regard, we managed to keep inflation in single digit.

My Government will, therefore, continue with cautious monetary policy implementation to ensure that the current macroeconomic stability is sustained in the medium to long term.

National Planning Commission Madam Speaker, I am determined to end policy discontinuities and short-termism in our thinking in this country.

Even when Governments change, our policies and national strategies must continue beyond an outgoing Government. That is why my Government established the National Planning Commission (NPC).

We are now making progress.

The NPC Commissioners were appointed and assumed their office.

The Commission now has Director General who has already reported for duties. We are now recruiting staff for the secretariat of the Commission.

The Commission will soon be operating at full scale in this financial year.

AGRICULTURE, WATER DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE Madam Speaker, at national level, Malawi will have enough food in the 2019/20 financial year.

The country’s maize production has increased from 2.6 million metric tonnes in 2017/18 growing season to 3.3 million metric tonnes in 2018/19 growing season.

This is an increase of 27 percent. The increase in harvest is due to favourable weather conditions and increase in inputs uptake by farmers through the Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP).

Madam Speaker, the floods that occurred in March this year affected about 291,470 farm households and a total area of about 70,111 hectares of crops. Some households in the affected districts will experience hunger due to these floods.

I want to report to this House that we are meeting the needs of the affected households.

Together with cooperating partners, we are implementing disaster response programmes in the affected districts of Chikwawa, Nsanje, Thyolo, Phalombe, Mangochi and Mulanje. Let me also report that Government recently adopted the National Resilience Strategy.

The Strategy will be piloted in the six districts.

The aim of the Strategy is to break the cycle of food and nutrition insecurity and mitigate risks of disasters such as floods. Despite these disasters, I wish to reiterate my position that no one will die of hunger.

I assure all Malawians that as long as I am your President, no one will die of hunger.

Farm Input Subsidy Programme Madam Speaker, the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) is one of the pro-poor programmes my Government has been implementing. The programme is one of the ways for us to make sure that the poor also benefit from the gains in our economy.

I am aware of the challenges affecting the programme. And there are people who say we should stop giving affordable fertilizers and seeds to the poor. They do not want us to give our poor farmers an opportunity to harvest enough food for their families.

Madam Speaker, let me say this: My Government welcomes any suggestions that can help improve the programme.

But I do not welcome the call that we should stop it. FISP will not stop. I assure all poor farmers across the country that my Government will continue to provide them cheap fertilisers and seeds. We will however continue finding ways to make the programme more efficient and sustainable.

I want more of our poor farmers to benefit. I want the programme to benefit those which it targets. Irrigation Development Madam Speaker, in order to reduce dependence on rain-fed agriculture, my Government will continue to invest in irrigation.

One such project is the Bwanje Irrigation Scheme,which Government is implementing with support from the European Union. We have completed the construction of the dam.

The scheme will increase the land under irrigation from 300 hectares to 800 hectares. This will see more farmers joining the scheme and achieving double-cropping within one season. That will result in improved incomes and improved food security.

Madam Speaker, in promoting irrigation farming, my Government formulated the Green Belt Initiative (GBI) with the aim of using the available abundant water and land resources for irrigation to increase production, productivity, incomes and food security.

Madam Speaker, to date, the Initiative has facilitated and monitored the production of sugar at Salima Sugar Factory with production capacity of over 4,000 metric tonnes of sugar.

This is expected to grow with the expansion of the hectarage of sugar cane plantations from 4,000 hectares to 6,000 hectares. Water Supply and Sanitation Madam Speaker, access to potable water is a right for every Malawian.

In this regard, we are implementing the Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Project. Under this project, we are taking potable water to villages in Rumphi, Nkhotakota, Phalombe, Mangochi and Ntcheu.

We have so far completed drilling of 450 boreholes and constructing 266 sanitation facilities.

We are in the final stages of rehabilitating 12 gravity-fed schemes.

We are completing construction of 2,925 community water points which will benefit 516,000 (five hundred and sixteen thousand) people in the target districts.

Madam Speaker, in terms of urban water supply, my Government continues to upscale access to safe and potable water in urban centres across the country.

We have therefore implemented a number of projects so that citizens in our urban centres also access clean water.

These projects include the Blantyre Water Supply Improvement Project, Lilongwe Water Efficiency Development Project and the Mzimba Integrated Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Project just to mention a few.

On Water Resources Development and Management, Government completed projects such as the upgrading of the Kamuzu Barrage at Liwonde – under the Shire River Management Programme.

The new barrage will improve the regulation of water in the Shire River to meet the water demand downstream for hydropower generation, water supply, environment protection and irrigation.

Madam Speaker, my Government will continue to invest in irrigation projects and clean water supply systems. We will continue working with farmers’ organizations, cooperative societies and water users associations to increase access to potable water and promote irrigation farming in Malawi.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT Madam Speaker, we are implementing skills development in both community technical colleges and mainstream education, particularly in higher education.

We want to encourage more practical education and character building instead of teaching knowledge for knowledge’s sake. An educated person must have the right knowledge, the right skills and the right character.

National education is an integrated system, and we must look at it as a whole. Let me start with basic education.

There is no education without basic education.

There is no strong higher education without a strong basic education.

That is why my Government always places emphasis on basic education to equip our children with basic knowledge and skills for them to be productive citizens in future.

In this respect, since 2014, we have implemented a number of projects. These include the National Reading Programme, the Malawi Education Sector Investment Programme and the Unlocking Talent Project.

These programmes were aimed at increasing access to education, deepening basic knowledge and developing skills in our learners. In that period, we constructed 14 new full primary schools across the country.

We recruited and deployed 47,600 (forty seven thousand six hundred) primary school teachers. We also increased primary school enrolment from 4.6 million to 4.9 million learners.

We are increasing access to education at all levels. Every Malawian must have secondary education.

In the next five years, I want every child who finishes primary school to go to secondary school.

For this reason, we are set to construct 250 new secondary schools across the country. Technically, depending on population distribution across the country, this means we can construct a new secondary school for every constituency.

Madam Speaker, this House will also note that we abolished payment of fees in secondary schools. We did this in order to improve access to secondary education.

I know there are many young people who have been failing to go to secondary school because they do not have fees. No child should fail to go to secondary school because they have no fees.

That is why we abolished secondary school fees. While improving access to education, we are also determined to improve the quality of education. One solution for quality education is to improve pupil to teacher ratio in the country.

Therefore, my Government has recruited and deployed 5,266 teachers to community day secondary schools across the country.

In a nutshell, our programmes for secondary education improvement include the following activities: n As I have said, we will construct 250 secondary schools under Secondary Education Expansion and Development Project.

This translates to an average 8 secondary schools in each district by the end of the project.

We will also rehabilitate 12 conventional secondary schools across the country; n We will commence expansion works for Domasi College of Education in Zomba so that we can train more teachers for our secondary schools.

We will upgrade all community day secondary schools to conventional secondary school standards. Madam Speaker, let me turn to tertiary education.

We want to create an educated Malawi. Government is aware of the growing demand for access to quality tertiary education in this country. Tertiary education is a critical factor in investing in human capital.

As one way of meeting this demand, my Government is implementing the Higher Education Science and Technology Project and Skills Development programme. We are thus expanding infrastructure in all public universities and in selected institutions of higher learning.

We have also successfully delinked colleges of the University of Malawi and we have created new public universities out of it.

We want each university to grow on a competitive basis in academic spirit, faculty staff, enrolment and financial resource base.

Bundling University of Malawi as we knew will create more university space, increase access and improve quality.

I am also pleased to report that the share of eligible students enrolling in our public universities has increased from 21 percent in 2014 to 32 percent in 2018. Over the years,we have also doubled the amount of scholarships and student loans for higher education.

So far, more than 40,000 students have accessed the loans. Our next goal is to involve the private sector, in particular our commercial banks to provide loans to students. While there is no free university education, no Malawian must fail to receive university education because of fees.

Above all, we need an urgent paradigm shift in funding our universities.

We will soon be engaging the universities to explore new mechanisms of funding them.

This will improve research, conditions of service and quality of university education. On quality of higher education, this House will note that we established the National Council for Higher Education with the sole mandate to register and accredit higher learning institutions in the country.

It is pleasing to note that the Council is a vigilant gate keeper of higher quality education in Malawi. Madam Speaker, we are now taking the university to the community.

As such, we have moved to make university education more accessible to Malawians who are busy and cannot physically attend the university education.

We have invested more in online and distant education. We have now constructed Centres of Excellence in various parts of the country. Our next goal is to establish Malawi Open University.

ENERGY AND MININING DEVELOPMENT Madam Speaker, let me now turn to Energy and Mining Development.

This time last year, I told this House that my Government is fixing the power problem. At that time, load shedding was order of the day.Power cuts were frequent and they lasted long each time they happened.

When I said we would fix the problem, many of us here doubted us.

Some prayed that we should fail so that they could score cheap political points.

We have proved them wrong. We have reduced power cuts. We now have longer hours of power than those without power.

Madam Speaker, this has not come by accident. First, I want to thank management and staff at ESCOM and EGENCO for working round the clock to end power shortages.

They worked hard to meet deadlines, and they continue to do so.We have improved power generation capacity. But the improvement is also as a result of the reforms my Government has implemented in the power sector.

We unbundled Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) to create two institutions.

This reform has brought efficiency in power generation and distribution. Under the Millennium Challenge Account, we have rehabilitated and modernized Nkula A hydro power plant. This has resulted in the increase in its capacity.

We have also constructed new transmission lines and rehabilitated old ones so that they have more power carrying capacity. It is pleasing to note that we are also connecting rural communities to electricity more than ever before.

As we improve the power sector, our rural populations are also benefiting.

Under Phase 8 of the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme, we have taken electricity to 473 rural trading centres. Under my Government, more of our people in the rural areas have come out of the dark.

Madam Speaker, let me assure all Malawians, through this House, that I am determined to end power shortages in Malawi. I want more of our businesses and homes to be connected to reliable electricity. We have an agenda to see more industries in the country.

But we can achieve this if we have enough power.

Therefore, in the next five years, my Government will implement more programmes aimed at improving power supply in the country.

These programmes include the following: Inviting more private sector players to invest in solar and wind power generating plants as Independent Power Producers (IPPs);

Implementing the 300MW Kam’mwamba Coal Fired Plant and 250MW Mpatamanga Hydropower Plant;

Co-developing the 180MW Songwe Hydropower plant with the Government of United Republic of Tanzania; 

Developing the 261 MW Fufu hydropower plant and  Intensifying efforts to tap power from the Southern Africa Power Pool through interconnection deals. Let me also announce that soon, we will start construction works on Mzimba Wind Energy project.

The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) is signed and we are set to start.

As I have said before, I want power shortages to end in Malawi; and they will end in my time as President of this country. Madam Speaker, with regard to mining, I reiterate that mining remains one of the most important sectors of my Government.

So far we have put in place a robust policy and legal framework to guide investments in the sector. Moving forward, we will establish a mining investment vehicle.

This institution will provide stewardship in promoting sustainable mineral development and mining investment.

The vehicle will also assist in curbing illegal mining in the country. We will also ensure that this country has its own laboratories to test minerals.

While we are opening up for business, we want to ensure that we have more control of our minerals. Furthermore, we will embark on mining of rare earth at Songwe hills in Phalombe, Makanjira in Mangochi and Kangankude in Balaka, among other areas.

We will also commence the mining of graphite in Malingunde, Lilongwe.

In general, we will facilitate issuance of new mineral licences to capable large scale mining investors.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY DEVELOPMENT Madam Speaker, my Government remains steadfast on our agenda to transform Malawi from a predominantly importing and consuming country to a predominantly producing and exporting country.

This is important if we are to move Malawi out of poverty to prosperity.

We will not grow our economy if we keep exporting our raw materials. Exporting raw materials is exporting jobs.

We will not end poverty if we keep exporting jobs. We will not achieve prosperity if we keep spending our forex on imports more than we gain on exports.

That is why my Government formulated a legal and policy framework aimed at developing industrialization in Malawi.

In the next five years, we will implement Rural Industrialization Strategy.

To promote consumption of domestic goods and services, we have been implementing the Buy Malawian Strategy.

We need to empower our local producers. We need to keep our money within our country by buying locally produced commodities.

I appeal to all Malawians to support our local industries to expand their business and create more jobs by buying their products.

In December 2018, I launched the Malawi Agricultural and Industrial Investment Corporation (MAICC). This is a vehicle for financing of agriculture and industrial projects in Malawi. MAICC has already started functioning.

I want to call upon Malawians to take advantage of this opportunity. Madam Speaker, My Government will improve access to finance by the private sector, Small and Medium Enterprises and Cooperatives by establishing a Cooperative Bank.

This bank will deliver services to cooperatives in the country and compliment the operations of the Malawi Agricultural and Industrial Investment Corporation.

In so doing, we will be able to finance startups and large scale business ventures. We will also promote matching grants in enterprise development to enable SMEs and Cooperatives access infrastructure and modern technologies.

Above all, we will recapitalise Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (MEDF) to target the Youth access to capital. TOURISM DEVELOPMENT Madam Speaker, tourism remains a key player in our economy.

Malawi remains one of the most attractive destinations in the world. Currently, we are encouraging local Malawians to promote Malawi to the world. In the recent past, we have carried out special events and programmes under the theme ‘Tidziyamba Ndife A Malawi.

My Government recognizes that we need more investment in the sector.

In that regard, I want to report to this House that we will vigorously pursue our programme to transform Mangochi into a tourism capital of Malawi.

We have a plan for a five-star hotel, an international airport, a golf course, shopping malls and modern roads and other top facilities to turn Mangochi into the centre of tourism in the country.

We also intend to develop tourism on Mulanje and Zomba mountains.

Let us develop cableway cars on the two mountains and inspire the world to visit Malawi more.

Let us create every reason for the world to want to come to Malawi.

TRANSPORT INFRASTRUCTURE Madam Speaker, in our quest to transform the transport sector in Malawi, my Government has invested heavily in roads, water, rail and air transport infrastructure development.

Over the past five years, we have connected our people, our villages and our cities with good roads. Some of the roads we have upgraded and rehabilitated include following: n Karonga–Songwe road; n Mangochi–Liwonde road; n Lilongwe Old Airport-Kasiya-Santhe Road; and n Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay Road.

In addition, we constructed Chapananga Bridge over Mwanza river.

Madam Speaker, the House may wish to note that at 180 metres long, this is the longest bridge in the country. With this bridge, we have finally connected the people of Mwanza and Chikwawa districts.

Let me also report that upgrading and construction works in the following projects are ongoing.

In most of them, we are nearing completion: n Zomba-Jali-Phalombe-Chitakale Road; n Thyolo-Thekerani-Muona-Makhanga Road; n Njakwa-Livingstonia Road; n Dual Carriage way between Parliament Round-about and Bingu National Stadium; Thabwa-Chitseko-Seveni Road;  Ntcheu-Tsangano-Neno Road;

Lirangwe-Chingale-Machinga Road; Lumbadzi-Dowa-Chezi Road;  Kawere-Mkanda Road; Jenda-Edingeni Road;  Rumphi-Nyika turn-off-Hewe Road; and  Blantyre Ring Road.

Madam Speaker, in the next five years, some of the roads that my Government will construct and rehabilitate are as follows: Msulira-Nkhotakota Road;  Lilongwe Eastern By-pass Road;  Dual carriage way from Biwi to Cross roads roundabout in Lilongwe City;

The dual carriage way from Cross roads to KIA Turn off in Lilongwe City; n Mchengautuwa-Katoto-Mzuzu University Road; n KIA Turn off to Mzimba turn off Road; n Kacheche-Chiweta Road; and n Kaphatenga to Dwangwa Road.

Madam Speaker, I should now turn to water transport.

My Government has started construction of a MK10 billion Port at Likoma. The construction is scheduled to take 18 months.

The project comes in the wake of the recent improvement of NkhataBay Port and the installation of light beacons which have enhanced the safety of passengers and vessels.

Madam Speaker, plans are underway to link Nkhata-Bay and Mbamba Bay Ports in order to have additional access to the Indian Ocean.

This is under the Mtwara corridor which is 400 kilometres shorter than the Dar-es-Salaam route. Under rail transport, my Government, in collaboration with Central East African Railways (CEAR) Limited, is rehabilitating the 399-kilometre railway section from Nkaya in Balaka to Mchinji.

So far, 76 km railway section has been rehabilitated. Under the same arrangement, we are also in the process of reconstructing the 72-km Limbe-Sandama railway.

With regard to air transport, Madam Speaker, my Government rehabilitated and expanded the Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) through the Japanese grant.

The project involved the expansion of the current terminal building, construction of international and domestic departure and arrival terminals, and installation of a radar system.

Madam Speaker, we have undertaken extensive rehabilitation at Chileka International Airport.

The resurfacing of the main runway is underway. We want to improve the airport so that we increase its air traffic activity.

Let me also assure the House that our plans for new international airports in Mzuzu and Mangochi are on course. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY Madam Speaker, ICT is one of our priority areas in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III.

ICT has a proven capacity to accelerate growth in sectors such as health, education, trade and agriculture. To this end,my Government has enacted legal framework to govern the sector. For example, we enacted the Electronic and Cyber Security Act, the Communications Act and Access to Information Act.

In addition, we have improved ICT infrastructure in Malawi by laying 1,386 kilometres of optic fibre covering all districts. We have also improved connectivity through Government Wide Area Network (GWAN) which we have rolled out to 75 percent of the district councils.

We successfully migrated from analogue to digital broadcasting. We also improved access to affordable, high quality internet services for Government, businesses and citizens. Madam Speaker, in the next five years, my Government will continue to invest in both infrastructural and service aspects of ICT.

We will continue to expand local area network to 400 sites across the country.

We will implement the electronic Government procurement system. We will also move towards paperless governance through the Electronic Documents and Records Management System. Ultimately, we will build a third National College of Information Technology to train more skills in ICT.

HEALTH AND POPULATION Public Health Madam Speaker, ensuring good health for the people of Malawi remains dear to my heart.

My Government will therefore continue to implement programmes for the good health of our people. We have formulated the Health Sector Strategic Plan II (2017-2022).

Under this plan, Government is implementing the Essential Health Package (EHP) which will help the country move towards Universal Health Coverage of quality, equitable and affordable health care for all Malawians.

Over the last five years, Government has made significant strides in addressing some of the challenges facing public health in the country.

For instance, we have recruited over 5,000 additional health workers and promoted 6,500 health workers to various positions.

 

We have introduced ‘Chipatala Cha Pa Foni’ , mobile vans, e-Health and m-Health to improve coverage and access to health services. We launched the Health Situation Room, which will provide Government with a synopsis of real time public health situation in all the districts in the country.

Government further procured and supplied modern equipment to over 1,000 health facilities across the country.

We are in the process of finalizing construction of the National Cancer Treatment Centre at Kamuzu Central Hospital. When fully functional, the centre will reduce the need for cancer treatment referrals outside the country. I should also report on drug supply.

When we came into government in 2014, the drug stocks at the Central Medical Stores were at around 30 percent. Today, we have improved the drug levels to 73 percent as of March 2019.

I want to see Malawians going to hospitals where they find drugs all the time. This House will note that we successfully fought drug theft and brought down the practice in our hospitals.

We will continue fighting this evil until we eliminate the malpractice. Madam Speaker, in the next five years, we will construct 250 health centres across the country.

Our aim is to increase the proportion of people living within 8km radius of the nearest health facility from the current 90 percent to 98 percent.

In the long term, we want to reduce further the distance to the nearest health centre to 5km.

HIV/AIDS Madam Speaker, our strides in the fight against HIV and AIDS are well known globally. Our Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission programme have been examples for the world to learn from.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all health workers in Malawi and our partners for their efforts in fighting this global health problem.

My Government is determined to eradicate HIV and AIDS in Malawi.

We have adopted the newly-introduced Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs which are promising to be more effective and easier to take than the previous ones. We expect that the prevalence rate of HIV and AIDS will continue to decline.

We have brought it down from 12.7 percent in 2004 when we started the ARV treatment programme to 8.8 percent in adults aged between 15 to 49 years old. This is no mean achievement. At this rate, we are well positioned to achieve the UNAIDS 90:90:90 target by 2020.

Malaria Madam Speaker, we have modernized our malaria case management standards. We are now using improved diagnostic tests. We are also implementing malaria preventive measures focusing on vector control.

These measures includes distribution and promotion of insecticide treated nets.

These steps are contributing to achieving the global target of eliminating malaria by 2030. So far, we have registered decrease in the number of malaria related deaths from 59 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 19.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017.

This is phenomenal.

WOMEN EMPOWERMENT. Madam Speaker, as you are aware, I am the champion of gender parity, women empowerment and uplifting of women’s rights. These are prerequisites for sustainable development in Malawi.

In this regard, my Government has strengthened legal and policy environment on women empowerment, ending violence against women and child marriages. We have also taken concrete steps to ensure that women are appointed into decisionmaking and other positions of influence.

The Government has already started mainstreaming gender in the national planning and budgeting processes and review of applicable legal instruments.

Madam Speaker, the fact that we have 43 women elected into this House in the recent election is testimony of our efforts on women empowerment.

Allow me, Madam Speaker, to take this opportunity to congratulate all the 43 women that have made it to this Parliament.

But Madam Speaker, I reserved special congratulations to Honourable Fyness Magonjwa, Member of Parliament for Machinga South East.

It is a great achievement to become a Member of Parliament at 23 years of age. She is probably the youngest Member of Parliament in this part of Africa.

This is how the Democratic Progressive Party is determined to empower Women and Youth in politics in this country.

Honourable Magonjwa represents the pride that honours us for our Women and Youth to break the record. Keep pressing forward in the pursuit of your dreams.

With determination, not even the sky is the limit. YOUTH DEVELOPMENT Madam Speaker, my Government recognizes the importance of youth empowerment in the development of the country.

I am, therefore, committed to promoting a high quality, skilled and productive youth for them to participate in sustainable economic growth for our country. In order to respond to high unemployment among the youth, my Government adopted the first-ever Graduate Youth internship Program.

We deployed over 4000 graduate interns to various public institutions for them to gain work experience.

Let me repeat what I have said before, we will offer jobs to all the youths under this internship programme.

Madam Speaker, through the 28 community technical colleges we have established, we are training our youths in vocational skills. We want our youths to employ themselves and create jobs for others.

I want our youths to drive our industrialization programme.

In the next five years, my Government will escalate the establishment of community technical colleges to constituency level.

We will also continue to implement the Graduate Youth Internship Program.

We will continue implementing the Jobs for the Youth and creating opportunities for the Youth.We will continue improving the economy and growing the local private sector to improve business and create more jobs.

Above all, we will harness bringing in more foreign investors to open more companies and create more jobs. The Government will also ensure that our youth have access to affordable loans to enable them operate businesses.

This provision of loans will be supported by training in entrepreneurial skills. At the same time, we will intensify our programs in access to university education to create more opportunities for the Youth. Above all, we are empowering the Youth to create their own jobs by equipping them with skills in community colleges.

Madam Speaker, I believe in teaching the Youth how to fish instead of giving them fish because we need to create a society that has self-dependent Youth.

INTERGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT. Madam Speaker, more than 80 percent of our population lives in the rural areas. My Government will continue to target this rural population of our country with development.

They too have the right to development, just like their counterparts in urban areas.

I am pleased to report that we have made tremendous achievements in integrated rural development. Madam Speaker, over the last five years, Government accelerated decentralization of services.

We have devolved human resources, staff payroll management and development budget to District Councils.

With regard to rural development, the Government completed the construction of Rural Growth Centres in Neno, Jenda in Mzimba, Malomo in Ntchisi, Monkey Bay in Mangochi and Nthalire in Chitipa. We are also completing construction works for Chitekesa Rural Growth Centre in Phalombe, Nambuma in Dowa, Chapananga in Chikwawa and Mkanda in Mchinji.

We also completed the construction of 13 modern markets in rural areas. These markets are:  Ekwendeni and Enukwenu in Mzimba;  Matawale and Sadzi in Zomba; n Nkhamenya in Kasungu; n Limbuli in Mulanje; n Dwangwa in Nkhotakota; n Ulongwe, Phalula and Mthandizi in Balaka;  Mbulumbuzi in Chiradzulu; and Usisya and Nkhata Bay main market in Nkhata Bay.

We also constructed and handed over five sports stadia in Karonga, Kasungu, Rumphi, Mulanje and Mangochi. Meanwhile, construction of other sports stadia in Ntcheu, Zomba, Thyolo, Nkhotakota, Salima and Ntchisi is underway.

Madam Speaker, in the next five years, Government will construct modern markets at Mulanje Mission and Chinakanaka in Mulanje; Nsanje Boma and Tengani in Nsanje; Chitipa Boma and Mwanza Boma, among other areas.

FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION. Madam Speaker, I wish to reiterate my Government’s stance on the fight against corruption.

I maintain my zero tolerance policy against corruption, fraud, theft and other economic crimes. We all agree that we demonstrated sound economic management and delivered projects in the last five years. But this is what Malawians need to know.

The economy has improved and we have delivered more development because we are putting Government resources to public use instead of putting public resources in private pockets. We are fighting corruption and reducing abuse of public resources. It is a continuing fight and we will continue fighting.

In the past five years, Government put in place measures aimed at enhancing accountability and transparency in public procurement and financial management systems. Last year, we reviewed the Anti-Corruption law to give the Anti-Corruption Bureau more independence.

In the next five years, we will strengthen the law by, among others, enacting deterrent sentences to convicts of corruption and economic crimes. I also wish to announce that we will introduce special courts to handle corruption cases.

We need to expedite court cases on corruption. However, let me repeat the call I have made before.

We will not win the fight against corruption by politicizing it.

We will not eradicate corruption in our society by leaving the task to the government alone. We need to come together at every level of our society, in the private sector, in the public sector, in churches, in mosques, among religious groups and civil society organizations.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Madam Speaker, allow me to report to this august House that in the past five years, Malawi has maintained warm relationships with all countries with which we share common vision and aspirations.

In February 2019, my Government launched the revised Malawi Foreign Policy and the National Diaspora Engagement Policy. These two documents represent a significant milestone in guiding Malawi’s relations with the international community and engagement with Malawians in the Diaspora.

We also repealed the laws for dual citizenship in recognition of the contribution made by Malawians living abroad. PEACE AND SECURITY Madam Speaker, my Government continued to implement measures aimed at maintaining law and order within and outside the country.

I am pleased to report to this august House that the country’s crime statistics show a decline of 24 percent since 2014. Our security agencies are now better equipped and trained to respond adequately and urgently to the needs of our nation.

Clearly, all our efforts are paying off. But I promise to do more to ensure improved security for our citizens.

Madam Speaker, Malawi has actively participated in peace keeping missions in the region and beyond.

Our men and women in uniform have consistently shown bravery and professionalism during peace keeping engagements abroad and during local disasters. Their efforts have been recognized by the world.

We too are proud of them for lifting our flag high in foreign missions and for ensuring our security.

Madam Speaker, my Government will continue to provide the necessary support for our men and women in uniform to continue to discharge their duties effectively.

PUBLIC SERVICE REFORMS Madam Speaker, in 2015, I launched the Public Service Reforms agenda.

Our aim is to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of public services. Some of the key achievements of the reforms are as follows: 

Introduction of the National Identification System through which more than 10 million Malawians aged 16 and above have been registered and issued with national identity cards; 

Introduction of Organization Performance Assessments for Government departments; n Establishment of Integrated Public Service Delivery Centres, also called Mlambe Service Centres in Mangochi and Lilongwe; and  Unbundling of the University of Malawi into three different universities in order to enhance autonomy, improve efficiency and increase access to tertiary education among Malawians.

Further to this, Madam Speaker, my Government developed the Malawi National Public Sector Reforms Policy and the Malawi Public Service Management Policy.

The two documents will provide strategic direction in the design, implementation and management of the public sector reforms agenda. Madam Speaker, my Government will continue with implementation of the reforms.

We now want to see more reforms for public resource management, efficiency and discipline in the public service. CONCLUSION In conclusion, Madam Speaker, this country has a lot of potential to achieve unprecedented transformation.

We have set the foundations for that transformation. In the last five years, we have demonstrated that we can deliver progress out of very difficult circumstances. We have proven that we can take Malawi on the progress from poverty to prosperity.

It is possible for us to end poverty in this country. Malawi is not a poor country, only the people are poor. We have proven that a better Malawi is possible

. What we need is to consolidate the gains we have achieved over the years. What we need is to unite and transform this country. What we need is to be positive minded in our drive to prosperity. What we need is to build our prosperity on the pillars of patriotism, integrity and hardwork.

Together, we can transform this country. And we must be the change we want to see. Together, we can move from poverty to prosperity. God Bless You All. And God Bless Malawi.

Thank you.

Features

Seeking divine intervention through social media

Seeking divine intervention through social media

Phalombe, July 12, 2019: Social media networks like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter have changed lives of Malawians in many aspects, be it in political, socioeconomic and religious circles. In the religious arena, social media has to some extent revolutionised the preaching of the Gospel. Social me...