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Britain rattles Malawi reforms programme

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British High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin has said the country needs to undergo a radical overhaul of thinking, attitude and delivery if it is to transform and escape the ever-nagging poverty trap.

Nevin spoke during celebrations to mark the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II in Lilongwe, Monday.

He said the Public Sector Reforms Programme should not just proclaim that they are supportive of private sector development, trade and investment, but must enforce open competition and shun policy flip-flops and cosy relationship.

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“We want a reform movement that we can see and feel, not just hear about. One that is concerned with the outcome, not just the process; public financial management that demonstrates it is delivering sustained improvement in the security and effectiveness of Malawi’s finances,” he said.

Nevin said Malawi is at a critical juncture and the only way out is upping the pace.

“Unless there is a radical overhaul of thinking and delivery, we will remain dealing with overwhelming symptoms and not their causes, focusing on emergency care rather than promoting long-term health, wellbeing and economic transformation.”

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He said the reforms being championed by government are a step in the right direction but he was quick to add that implementation is key.

“We want this government to succeed with their reform agenda, but delivery is the name of the game. Success will be measured in plans, which translates into impact. It means a vision and plan that fosters initiative and responsibility, weaning people of dependency and entitlement,” he said.

Getting into his strides, the diplomat urged for boldness of action and prioritising of areas, which can turn the country around, and getting the system to deliver.

“A reform movement does not talk about irrigation schemes but implements them, along with broader agricultural reform so that Malawians do not go hungry year– on year.”

He also bemoaned government’s failure to take advantage of the Nacala Corridor.

“Reformists ensure that the country is ready for the game changing advantages of the Nacala Corridor; overcoming bureaucratic inertia and vested interests. It is worrying that the railway is finished but Malawi does not yet have anything in place to take advantage of it,”he said.

In his remarks, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe who was guest of honour at the event stressed that the reforms will produce results soon.

“We might be seen to be slow with the reform process but we are committed as government but the hiccups are as a result of capacity and inadequate resources. I promise you that we will deliver,” he said.

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