Peter Mutharika outlines new direction
Malawi President Peter Mutharika has outlined new course of action which his administration wants to implement during the 2015/16 financial year.
Delivering the State of Nation address in Parliament in Lilongwe yesterday, Mutharika said part of the new agenda of his administration includes introduction of a National Service.
“Mr. Speaker, Sir, Government is also planning to establish a National Service whereby young men and women will be enlisted to undergo basic military training.”
According to Mutharika, the move is aimed at propping up the country’s security explaining that government continues to remain alert in order to defend and uphold the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
He said Malawi is committed to global and regional peace initiatives and in that regard Malawi troops continue to serve in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as part of the UN and Sadc Intervention Force Brigade.
Besides improving the welfare and living conditions of Malawi Defence Force (MDF) by among others developing and rehabilitating infrastructure in MDF establishments, Mutharika also pledged to strenthen internal security by equipping the police with the necessary resources.
Apart from the introduction of the National Service Programme which see the youth undergoing basic military training, another new direction that government has taken is that of reviewing the Citizenship Act so that Malawians can start exploiting the benefits of dual citizenship.
“Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the 2015/2016 fiscal year, Government will review the Citizenship Act in order to, among others, consider dual citizenship and eliminate discrimination based on gender,” he said.
On the issue of governance, the President said in order to develop a strong justice system and rule of law, government has undertaken reforms that include reviewing of the law in order to promote principles of democracy in accordance with the Constitution and international practice.
He also said during the year under review, government prosecuted over 987 criminal cases out of a target of 1,000 cases that included homicide cases besides managing to reduce default judgements by 70 percent.
On international relations, Mutharika said his government continues to maintain cordial relations with many countries and international organisations.
“In this respect,” he said “we extended our circle of allies by, among other things, establishing non-residential diplomatic ties with several countries.”
On the recent xenophobia attacks in South Africa, Mutharika said his administration swiftly repatriated its affected citizens.
He also bemoaned the deaths of Malawians who perished during the recently floods, saying government supported by many partners and well-wishers responded to disasters timely, efficiently and effectively.
The unprecedented flooding resulted in 106 deaths and the missing of 172 people while 230,000 were displaced. Overall, up to 1.15 million people were affected by the floods,” he said.
On the economy, Mutharika said the government will continue to design and implement sound macroeconomic policy reforms aimed at creating a stable macroeconomic environment for the private sector to thrive, with a view to transforming the economy to attain full recovery and achieve sustained inclusive growth and development.
He said the policies will ensure that the economy achieves and maintains high economic growth rates of at least 6 percent.
“Mr. Speaker, Sir, although our current foreign exchange reserves still remain lower than adequate, it is pleasing to note that recently, our foreign exchange reserves have risen to more than 3 months of import cover,” he said.
Mutharika said this increase in foreign exchange reserves has managed to anchor the stability of the kwacha in 2015.
“Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is expected that foreign exchange reserves would continue to rise with the onset of the tobacco marketing season and the resumption of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme,” Mutharika added.
He also disclosed that the annual average inflation is expected to drop from 23.8 percent in 2014 to 16.4 percent in 2015 due to the combined effect of the stable exchange rate and a significant decline in global oil prices.
“It is projected that inflation will continue to be on a downward trend and will reach an annual average rate of 12 percent in 2016,” he said.
Mutharika also hailed government’s success to concluded negotiations with the IMF on the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) for the Fifth and Sixth reviews in March, 2015.
“This resulted in the IMF’s approval of the completion of the Fifth and Sixth reviews of Malawi’s economic performance under the programme supported by the ECF arrangement, as well as financing amounting to US$18.1 million for immediate disbursement,” he said.
On fiscal policy the president said following the cashgate scandal, the contribution of donor support to the budget substantially declined from about 30 percent of the total resource envelope to less than 20 percent in the 2014/15 fiscal year.
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