Republic of Malawi

SPEECH BY

HER EXCELLENCY DR JOYCE BANDA PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBIC OF MALAWI

TO

THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

TUESDAY, 19TH MARCH, 2013

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 RIGHT HONOURABLE TRICIA MARWICK, PRESIDING OFFICER OF THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT;  YOUR EXCELLENCY CHIEF JUSTICE RICHARD BANDA, SC, RETIRED;  HONOURABLE PARLIAMENT;  MEMBERS OF MY DELEGATION;  MR. MICHEAL NEVIN, UK HIGH COMMISSIONER TO MALAWI;  MR. BERNARD SANDE, MALAWI HIGH COMMISSIONER TO THE UK;  DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS;  LADIES AND GENTLEMEN MEMBERS OF THE SCOTTISH

I am delighted to be with you this morning and to be able to greet you in your own parliamentary home. This is a beautiful building in the heart of the city – yet with the mountain and countryside on your doorstep.

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Quite a number of you have visited us in Malawi, so this is a good opportunity for me to return that compliment and visit you here. Let me invite those of you who have not visited us to come to Malawi and see our Parliament in action. You will be most welcome.

 Madam Presiding Officer Honourable Members The occasion for our visit this week is to celebrate the 200 th birthday of Dr. David Livingstone, the man from Blantyre who spent the best years of his life exploring and enjoying central Africa. Our very first visit in Scotland - when we arrived after a long journey on Sunday was to his birthplace. Dr. Livingstone, and Scotland, have a very special place in the hearts of all Malawians.

Last night we were welcomed to Edinburgh Castle and enjoyed a wonderful dinner hosted by the First Minister. We met many of the people who are engaged with Malawi and whose commitment and experience we deeply appreciate.
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Scotland’s story in Malawi dates back to Dr Livingstone, and the work that I and my delegation have witnessed during our visit to this beautiful country is a tribute to him. I believe he would be delighted by the range and depth of modern Scotland’s engagement with a country he loved.

 Madam Presiding Officer Honourable Members Scotland has been closely involved with the economy of Malawi right from the beginning. Dr Livingstone called for “Christianity, Commerce and Civilisation” to end slavery and bring new opportunity to the people of my country. Yesterday afternoon we met with prospective Scottish investors, at a meeting convened with the help of Mrs. Ann Gloag and chaired by Mr. Ewan Brown. My Ministers and I look forward to talking further with them, and so we will make arrangements for a visit by prospective Scottish investors later this year. Do you know that in the lakeshore town of Nkhota-kota you can still sit under the tree where Dr. Livingstone negotiated with slave
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traders and set people free? So come to Malawi and feel at home, because it is Scotland’s African home. Walk with us, work with us, and invest with us. We should walk hand in hand as we build a bright future for the next generations.

As President of Malawi, I am proud of my people and our history. I am committed to eradicating poverty through economic growth and wealth creation. As a nation, we are on a path to unlock the potential of our people to regain their dignity and sense of pride and thereby give them the opportunity to realize their social, political and economic freedoms. My Government has prioritized to drive a peoples’ development agenda that enhances opportunities, reduces inequalities and overcomes poverty. As a country, we have embraced the values of integrity, honesty, tolerance, selflessness and stewardship. We are building our future on three pillars of Unity, Equity and Development.

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 Madam Presiding Officer Honourable Members Equipped with these values, Malawians have joined me on a journey to build a caring and an inclusive society. A society that rejects corruption, nepotism, and lawlessness. A society that respects the rule of law, that guarantees human dignity, fosters development and prosperity for all. Malawians seek a public service that is efficient, effective and motivated and that can deliver on its mandate. My country men and women are saying that indeed building a better Malawi is possible.

Madam Presiding Officer, Honourable Members,

As this Assembly may be aware, I assumed the presidency of Malawi in April, 2012 under very peculiar circumstances following the sudden death of my predecessor, the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika. At that time, the economy of Malawi was at near collapse. Due to economic and political governance problems, the country had lost the support from its cooperating partners and
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hence the much needed budget support was frozen. On the diplomatic front, relations with the international community and even our neighbours were destroyed.

As a result of these developments, the country was running short of foreign currency and hence was unable to import fuel and other raw materials necessary for producing goods and services. People were spending days at petrol stations waiting in anticipation for fuel deliveries. Consequently, companies were laying off people and the tax collections were dwindling leading to increasing deficits in the national budget. The combination of non disbursement of budget support by our cooperating partners and the dwindling revenues meant that the required social services could not be delivered as required. This is the Malawi I found when I got into office in April, 2012.

It therefore became very clear that the first task that we had to do was to take measures to bring the country back on its economic path. I immediately engaged the British government and within a short space time we restored the bilateral relations between our
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countries. Very quickly, we exchanged envoys. At the same time, I had to put in place economic policy reforms to reverse the economic governance problems that I inherited. I therefore engaged the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank with a view to agreeing on an economic reform package to stabilize the economy which included devaluing the currency by 49 percent. These measures were politically very risky but we recognized that they were necessary. Fortunately, the people of Malawi have been very supportive of these reforms. This support has been strengthened because they have noticed that some of the challenges that were there in April 2012 have disappeared. I must also point out that my government has received tremendous support from the international community including the United Kingdom.

In July, 2012, I organized a national dialogue on the economy to come up with measures to stimulate the economy and ensure sustainable economic growth. Through this dialogue, we came up with an Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) which outlines short and medium term measures to get the economy up and running
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again. Under the ERP, we have identified five priority sectors namely: agriculture, energy, mining, tourism and infrastructure development. These sectors were identified based on their potential to create jobs for the people of Malawi and diversify the sources of growth. Government further decided to identify three projects in each of the priority sectors. Through the project implementation and monitoring unit set up in my office, we are closely following up on these projects to ensure that we deliver on our promise to the people of Malawi.

Madam Presiding Officer, Honourable Members,

In the Economic Recovery Plan, we have recognized that the private sector has a very critical role to play in bringing prosperity and wealth to the people of Malawi. To this end, we have taken measures to improve the business environment in the country. We have reviewed all the laws that affect the business environment and a number of them have already been amended and passed by our parliament. I have directed that we must move Malawi from the
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current position of 157 to the top 100 countries on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index by the end of my term of office next year.

I wish therefore to invite the Scottish investors to come and invest in Malawi. Malawi has many investment opportunities in agriculture, energy, mining, tourism among other sectors. The people of Malawi are hard working, honest and we have laws that ensure that your investment is secured and protected. My message to this assembly is that Malawi is open for business and the people of Scotland are invited to join us on this journey towards prosperity.

 Madam Presiding Officer Honourable Members In conclusion, let me assure the people of Scotland that Malawi is poised for transformation. We have endured the dangerous zone and we are just about to realize our destiny. The melody from the warm heart of Africa is sweet again. There is hope for my people. Indeed, there is hope for my country.
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I look forward to seeing the friendship between our two beautiful countries growing and being extended. Let us continue our journey as friends and colleagues. Let us work together to build a just society; a caring society; and an inclusive society.

It is therefore my aim to ensure that under my leadership, we continue these historic links for the mutual benefit of the people of Malawi and Scotland.

I look forward to further collaboration between Malawi and Scotland.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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