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Delivering on our promises - Budget speech

Delivered by His Excellency Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi at the opening of the 2005 budget session of the National Assembly

6th June 2005

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It is with much pleasure and honour that I stand before this Honourable House today to perform the very important duty of opening the second budget session of the National Assembly under my administration. This session is very important as it will consider our budget for the 2005/2006 financial year.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, this session of the National Assembly is also important because it marks exactly one year of implementing sound economic management policies under my administration. This session offers me the opportunity to review the progress that we have made over the past year; the challenges that we have faced; and the clear direction we have taken for the economic prosperity of our country in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, when I opened the budget session last year, I underscored the significance of the national budget to the economic transformation of this country in terms of stimulating economic activity. I then focused on laying a solid foundation for achieving a sustainable rate of economic growth in Malawi. I had then indicated that for our country to get out of poverty, we need to achieve an annual growth rate of at least 6 percent. My desire remains that our budget should be structured in such a way that it serves as the key instrument for achieving rapid economic transformation. More importantly, the budget should serve as a tool for improving the investment climate thereby promoting private sector development to support economic growth. It should also serve as a vital instrument for effectively delivering social programmes and public services that address the needs of all Malawians. It is in this regard that the 2005/06 budget has been designed to consolidate the foundation for economic growth to take root in this country.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, as I have often stated, it is my vision that for this country to attain high levels of economic growth, bring about economic prosperity, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for everyone, we must strive to create new wealth. It is therefore the desire and the policy of my government to transform our country from being a predominantly importing and consuming nation into a predominantly producing and exporting nation. This will require us to take certain specific measures for establishing manufacturing and processing plants for our primary products and raw materials to turn them into high value goods for both local consumption and export.

Starting from the 2005/06 financial year, Mr. Speaker Sir, the national budget will increasingly focus on investing in physical infrastructure that will improve the transport system, energy supply, water and sanitation, and telecommunications. It will also aim to accelerate investments in human development in the education and health sectors, as well as in the fight against the HIV-AIDS pandemic. In agriculture, the prioritisation of irrigation development will be increased so as to combat the chronically-recurring food insecurity brought about by combinations of droughts and floods in various parts of our country. This is why food security is at the top of my priorities for the development of our country.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the need to become economically self-reliant requires us all to abandon the prevalent culture of expecting the Government and other official agencies to provide all our necessities of life through hand-outs. Let us all change our mindset on this. From this budget, we shall begin to minimise hand-outs but we shall target social assistance only at those who need it most. However, changing this hand-outs mindset permanently will require us to provide sufficient incentives for our people to engage in highly productive income and employment opportunities.

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