- Mr. Speaker, Sir, and Honourable Members, I beg to move that the estimates of the Recurrent Account and the Development Account of the 2005/2006 budget be referred to the Committee of the whole to consider them Vote by Vote and by Head and, thereafter, that they be adopted.
- Mr. Speaker, Sir, before I proceed with the presentation of the budget, allow me to acknowledge the support my Ministry has been privileged to enjoy as we implemented the 2004/2005 financial year budget. Let me, Honourable Members, first single out the guidance from His Excellency the President, Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika, which has been so important to me. I have relied on His Excellency's political and technical inspiration and his determination to succeed. The President has encouraged me by highlighting our achievements and by constantly inspiring me with his vision whose goal posts are so relevant to what our country has to do. Your Excellency, let me, on behalf of my Cabinet colleagues, publicly acknowledge how grateful we have been for your leadership during the first year of our stewardship. There is a well known adage within the international donor community. In these circles, it is strongly believed that an indication of a country's ability to succeed in its economic management and in carrying out its economic development agenda is provided by how the leader of a nation conducts himself in matters of public finance. In this respect. I want to say how grateful we have been to His Excellency the President this first year.
- Mr. Speaker, Sir, it will also be remiss of me to omit paying tribute to this Honourable House for creating what I consider to have been a vibrant parliamentary environment. I have been impressed that regardless, at times, of acrimonious debates that have prevailed, eventually where it has mattered, we have rallied support behind the public good and emerged with a consensus that has been considered vital to our people. Honourable Members will wish me to publicly state that this accomplishment has been due to your fatherly leadership, Mr. Speaker, Sir. On behalf of my Cabinet colleagues and, here may I dare also to speak on behalf of all Honourable Members, may I, with all candor, express our gratitude also to the leadership that constitutes our Business Committee. The fact that the Committee comprises the country's cream of political leaders, eminent and experienced statesmen has counted in leading the House to rally behind the vital interest of our people. This will be even more important during the 2005/2006 financial year.
- I say this, Mr. Speaker, Sir, because, as I proceed with my presentation of the budget, you will see that the country will need this statesmanship of the House more than ever. For I believe that the year could be a defining one for the country. The House will be called upon to oversee a huge public investment programme that could have an immediate positive impact on the welfare of the people. The question that is continuously posed and is being posed now is whether we will continue to be guided by the public interest as has been the case so far, or whether we will put parochial interests above those of our people. In my view, we are being challenged by the availability of resources which donors have dangled before us. This money could prevent the prevalence of hunger, it could permit the rehabilitation of our roads, the construction of schools and hospitals and the creation of employment opportunities for our people. Therefore, I hope as we have done throughout the year, we could rally round this development programme and emerge with a consensus to move ahead in the interest of reducing the suffering of our people.
- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in March 2005, I made a comprehensive report to the House about the first half budgetary outturn. I also gave a forecast of the financial budgetary outcome at the end of the 2004/2005 financial year. In some detail I reported to the House the outcomes of the initiatives that had been implemented. Here, with the permission of the House, I will restrict the 2004/2005 budgetary review to our final projections of the financial outcomes of that year's budget.
- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the House also will recall that the budget was anchored by a Staff Monitored Programme of the International Monetary Fund. The implementation of this programme commenced on July 1st, 2004 and covered the entirety of the 2004/2005 financial year. I am pleased to confirm to the House that on the basis of a successful implementation of this programme, the IMF and the government completed discussions of a formal PRGF programme that could replace the Staff Monitored Programme. The programme is expected to be presented for the IMF board approval shortly after the 2005/2006 budget is approved by Parliament.