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Response time: Chakwera takes questions in Parliament

President Dr Lazarus Chakwera on Wednesday responded to questions from members of Parliament (MPs) concerning the State of the Nation Address which he delivered two weeks ago.

President Chakwera took five questions from legislators Noah Chimpeni of Nkhata Bay South East, Mary Navicha of Thyolo Thava, Susan Dossi who represents Chikwawa West, Ajilu Richard Kalitendere of Machinga North East and Bester Awali Zomba Central. Some of the questions revolved around food security and mining.

On agriculture, the President said his government will ensure that no Malawian dies of hunger. Dr Chakwera said the government has mobilised relief food items to be distributed across the country.

He said the situation on the ground has been exacerbated by natural causes, which are beyond the control of anyone.

With the country still feeling the pinch of El Nino weather condition, which will likely affect the overall agricultural output, the Malawi leader highlighted that currently government is conducting a scientific assessment to establish the impact of the dry spell and the results will inform the key steps that Malawi would take.

Through the Greenbelt Authority in collaboration with the Malawi Prison Services, the country’s President assured Malawians that serious irrigation farming of the country’s staple cereal, maize, will be done to mitigate the impact of the adverse weather condition.

“To achieve food security regardless of weather patterns, over 56,000 hectares have been identified for irrigation,” said Chakwera.

He went on to ask all organisations and people of goodwill to join the Government in reaching out to people in areas with severe crop failure.

To cushion hunger-stricken Malawians, the country has thus far received maize flour from Tanzania and South Africa. However, Chakwera said more aid is coming to ensure that no Malawian dies of hunger.

On mining, President Chakwera emphasised that the Reserve Bank of Malawi started purchasing gold as a strategic move to have a structured market for the mineral.

He said as of now, RBM has 187 kilogrammes of gold which will not be sold anytime soon, saying it will be purified and stored as gold bars.

The Malawi leader has urged legislators to support the government in buying all gold mined in the country for storage at the central bank because previously, the gold was being externalised with no traces of proceeds returning to the country.

Turning to developments at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services, the Malawi leader said the Government will not pay any ransom to those who hacked the country’s Passport printing system.

“Government will never pay ransom money you have demanded after hacking the system because we are not in the business of appeasing criminals with public money,” said Chakwera, adding that efforts will be made to arrest the culprits.

On retirees’ pension fund and gratuities, Chakwera said he has instructed the Ministry of Finance to clear the backlog that is there, citing a raise in pension allocation from K133 billion to K182 billion.

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