Stop relying on aid, UK minister tells Malawi
Britain, one of Malawi's key donors, says it wants to see Malawi migrating from the current aid dependency to trade.
Up to 30 percent in this year's national budget for Malawi will be financed by donor countries, including Britain.
In his remarks at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre, British Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham said his country would help Malawi migrate from the current aid dependency to trade.
Bellingham, who is Parliamentary Under Secretary for Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said his country would like trade between Malawi and United Kingdom doubling in three years, from the present £60 million (K26.9 billion) to £120 million (K54 billion) per annum.
"Currently our two way trade is worth £58.5 million per annum and the balance of trade is in Malawi's favour. My ambition is to see that figure doubled, with Malawi gaining more through trade than aid," he said.
Bellingham said his country wants to see British companies investing in Malawi, training people and transferring skills, expertise and technology.
He stressed on the need for the Malawi Government to continue adhering to the rule of law and good governance
Britain has this year provided £33 million to the Reserve Bank of Malawi in order to cushion the Malawi kwacha currency after the government devalued it.
Besides, it will be releasing an additional £25 million for health, farm subsidy programme and emergency cash and food programmes, bringing the total UK aid to £58 million (26 billion) this year.
On her part, President Joyce Banda said she was grateful to the UK for the critical support provided to Malawi at "our point of greatest need."
"When my government took the bold but necessary step of devaluing the kwacha, UK was the first to offer us help," Banda said.
Answering questions from reporters, Banda said it is up to the Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda to declare vacant parliamentary seats of those who have defected to the ruling party, saying she has no powers over Section 65 of the Republican Constitution.
"Declaring of the seats is the domain of the Speaker. My only comment [I made] is that we will have 110 vacant seats and the government will spend K4 billion when we don't have drugs [in public hospitals]. But it is up to the speaker to declare the seats vacant," Banda said.
Chimunthu Banda is expected to make a determination on legislators who allegedly crossed the floor from their various political parties, mostly from Democratic Progressive Party to People's Party after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika in April.
President Banda reiterated her opinion that it is costly to run the 110 by-elections when the country is facing economic problems, but said it is up to the speaker to make a decision on the matter.
On the government reducing the costs of Independence e celebrations yet the same government has been spending on celebrations marking her first 100 days in office, Banda said:
"Government has not spent any money on the 100 days activities. There was no cost to the government...the treasury did not release any money," she said.
She said the government actually spent more money on the Independence celebrations which went up to K47 million for the prayers and the international match, K37 million up from the initial K10 million.