The budget should speak to SONA –NPC – Capital Radio Malawi
22 June, 2024

The budget should speak to SONA –NPC

Delivered the SONA -Chakwera

President Lazarus Chakwera has forecasted a speedy economic recovery for the coming fiscal year in a State of the Nation Address –SONA that has largely been described as positive by analysts.

In his address which marked the opening of the 2024-2025 budget meeting of parliament, Chakwera highlighted structural reforms, cushioning measures and production projects aimed at economic recovery.

Chakwera who believes the government’s key production strategy of Agriculture, Tourism and Mining (ATM) is a game changer dwelled on how the trio could transform the country although Tourism continues to perform below its true potential as of now.

While considering pro-poor interventions in safety nets and social cash transfers as important to cushion the vulnerable, he was optimistic production projects under Agriculture Commercialisation (AGCOM) and mega farms are key to supporting recovery drive.

“I am happy to report that it (Mega farms initiative) has seen significant strides in the past year as we implemented our plans to establish large-scale production units for priority crops.

“In collaboration with the Malawi Defense Force and Malawi Prisons, my Administration coordinated the production of 373 Metric Tons of maize for restocking of our 15 strategic grain reserves.

“Similarly, the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources cultivated 103 hectares of maize on Illovo, while Dwangwa Farm produced 700 Metric Tons of maize,” Chakwera said.

Chakwera also listed interventions to stave off hunger, including the Social Cash Transfers Programme (SCTP), the Climate Smart Enhanced Public Works Programme, and a Food Security Response programme.

Through the SCTP, also known as Mtukula Pakhomo, the monthly allocation to beneficiaries has been increased from 9,000 Kwacha to 19,000 Kwacha with plans to increase it further –according to Chakwera.

Meanwhile, Chakwera said AGCOM and the Malawi Development Corporation Holdings–a vehicle of state-owned enterprises including Malawi Mining Company is designed to be a long-term wealth creation framework.

Outlining several strides including the signing of a Mining Development Agreement (MDA) with global metals at Kanyika mine, the progress of Kayerekera mine reopening and the completion of the mining laboratory project, Chakwera was optimistic.

“When all these operations begin to yield a harvest, it will be a game changer for Malawi not only economically, but also geopolitically, for we have every reason to expect that we will become less dependent on outsiders for any resources to build our roads, our hospitals, our bridges, our schools, our universities, our airports, and more,” He said.

The president has since set high expectations, trusting the ATM strategy while hyping Tourism reforms like increasing direct fights connecting Malawi and the removal of Visa restrictions as key for tourism attraction.

In his reaction, National Planning Commission Director General Thomas Munthali described the SONA as the most MW-2063 centric.

Said Munthali: “It enthuses so much hope. It places wealth creation at the center in language and priorities of focus. It sends the correct signals to all stakeholders – Parliament, MDAs, non-state actors and citizens on the importance of getting serious in living the talk of wealth creation.

“On occasions when he said, ‘this is progress’ after highlighting an achievement as part of accounting for what has happened in each of the wealth creating and enabling areas, the message was simple – let’s all rally our efforts to scale up such initiatives.

However, Munthali said the most immediate test to getting serious and operationalizing the SONA, is the forthcoming national budget for which this Parliament is sitting.

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