Written by ARNOLD NAMANJA
NEW YORK-- President Joyce Banda has said Malawi is currently at a very critical economic transition which requires the involvement of both local professionals and international development partners.
Banda made the observation on Saturday at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, New York when she addressed Malawians under the Association of Malawians in the Tri – State Area (MAITA) and Boston in the United States of America.
“It is now time to change the situation by making decisions which are relevant and plausible for the people of Malawi,” Banda said when she addressed the tri – state which is made up of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
She said the country was reeling from severe scarcity of fuel, forex and drugs in hospitals at the time she took over the presidency, adding that the country’s traditional financiers like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had downsized their support.
“For us we needed to come up with a recovery plan…I’ve have heard some people saying that they don’t know my plans, but the message is clear, we would like to turn things around for the better,” Banda emphasised.
Banda said in the medium to short term, government has two basic goals which are meant to bring the economy back on its course and lay foundation for strong democratic government which is accountable to its citizens.
The President said government’s vision was to eradicate poverty through creation of wealth and jobs in a bid to sustain and stabilise the country’s economy. “I’ve decided to build a better haven for all Malawians irrespective of one’s tribe or political persuasions,” she added.
Banda pointed out that her administration has diversified an economic model to generate forex and encourage trade and investment in line with the two presidential initiatives of hunger and poverty reduction and the maternal and safe motherhood.
“Under the first initiative, women and the youth in some selected farms will be supported to cultivate crops including cassava and bananas that have potential for exportation in order to improve individual as well as household income levels,” said the Malawian leader.
She therefore called on Malawian in diaspora to help mobilise resources to foster socio – economic growth by among other things investing in their native country and transferring skills.
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Ephraim Chiume disclosed that government had established a Malawians in diaspora unit within the ministry which would address contentious issues of dual citizenship, tax remittances and access to land, among others.
On the other hand, Chiume updated Malawians living in the US about the Malawi/Tanzania Lake Malawi border dispute, saying everything was under control, dismissing media reports suggesting any armed conflict.
“The border on the lake was determined in 1890 by the British Government and there has never been any other treaty between Germany and Great Britain,” Chiume said. “I think we’ve done everything possible to avoid provocation from our neighbour.
He said Malawi would respect the determination of the International Court of Justice where the matter has since been referred to.
President of MAITA, Clifton Bobe congratulated president Banda for being the first female Malawian head of state and the second in Africa. He also hailed the peaceful and smooth transition of power.
Bobe pledged the associations continued support to development undertakings, saying: “The goal for most of us is to return home be it on retirement, second careers or to start businesses since they say East or West home is best.”