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SONA’S KEY HIGHLIGHTS

President Dr Lazarus Chakwera says his administration will continue providing necessary social services aimed at improving the living conditions of Malawians despite the continued harsh economic outlook.

Dr Chakwera made the remarks at the Parliament Building in Lilongwe when he delivered the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Friday during the opening of the 50th session of Parliament.

Delivering the SONA the Malawi leader first admitted that the economy is still sailing in rough waters just as the situation is in many countries in the region. He cited debt, adverse weather conditions, and climatic shocks such as cyclones as among the contributing factors.

He further said even advanced economies are expected to register a growth decline from 2.7 percent to 1.2 percent. However, Dr Chakwera said his administration is implementing several measures to ensure economically there’s sustainable economic growth.

On food security, Dr Chakwera told Parliament that government is already on the ground providing relief food and cash transfers citing districts such as Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi and Mzimba among many.

On the Affordable Inputs Programme, President Chakwera acknowledged the administrative hiccups it faced but said the government has reached 73 percent of the beneficiaries with seed and fertilizer. He said the number of households that have benefited from the AIP still stands at 1.7 million and expressed optimism that those that are yet to redeem their inputs will be assisted.
And to cushion 845,000 households that are food insecure, according to a Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Report…the Malawi Leader also outlined the government’s response to help them.
Turning to plans on flagship projects, Dr Chakwera said the government has secured over 200 hectares of land in Salima and Mangochi for a start. He further commended entities such as Malawi Prison and Malawi Defence Force for establishing their own, besides organizing farming communities into cooperatives through AGCOM.
Dr Chakwera also disclosed that several irrigation schemes were launched to help communities shift from depending on rain–fed agriculture.
On tourism…the president said the government is taking decisive actions to maximise its potential as a forex generator by among others waiving visa fees for tourists from the UK, the USA, Germany, Australia, Norway, Finland and Sweden and completing negotiations to introduce direct flights from major tourism markets.

While on mining, which is deemed by economic experts as vital for the economy…Dr Chakwera said the government continues to support the National Mining Company and continues empowering the Reserve Bank of Malawi as the structured market for gold.

On health, President Chakwera said his government has managed to install 894 solar-powered fridges and constructed cold rooms in various hospitals including Mangochi, Zomba and Mzimba.

Dr Chakwera said the most notable achievement in the health sector is the reduction of new HIV infections from 33000 to 11,000.

While in education, he said the government has done much including the construction of three Teacher Training Colleges of Chikwawa, Rumphi and Mchinji besides recruiting over 2 thousand teachers under the Secondary Education Expansion project, 30 community day sec schools have been completed.

On transport, Dr Chakwera said his administration has lined up several road construction and rehabilitation projects including the M5, M1, Chitipa – Ilomba road, and  Dzaleka – Ntchisi among many others.
The President also told Parliament that over 1000 houses for security personnel have been constructed and that his administration has recruited over 2 thousand police officers to enhance security. The Malawi leader has also ordered that procurement of uniforms for security agents should be done locally. Also, President Chakwera ordered that National Identity Cards should not have an expiry date.
He reminded Malawians about the government’s intention to construct the Inkosi Mbelwa University in Mzimba District among many developments.

The President has also said that his administration has managed to establish an asset forfeiture unit through which the government has traced and preserved illicit assets worth 1.4 billion connected to 25 individuals who are answering cases of fraud and money laundering.

Reported by Isaac Jali, MBC Online Services.

#MBCNewsLive

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