President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday highlighted initiatives his administration seeks to implement to improve environmental management in the country.
During his appearance in Parliament on September 10 to answer questions from legislators, the President pledged to make a special presentation on the environment after it was noted that the subject matter conspicuously missed from his maiden State of the Nation Address.
Yesterday, Chakwera took advantage of the State House Weekly Briefing to unveil the initiatives which includering-fencing the carbon tax fund to ensure it is solely used for environmental management related programmes.
His emphasis on management of the carbon tax fund comes against a background of reports that the immediate-past administration diverted about K1.2 billion from the fund for unrelated activities. The fund was deposited in the general purpose Account Number One contrary to experts’ recommendations to separate it from this account.
During the briefing, Chakwera boldly declared that his administration will protect the fund from misuse.
The President said his administration will establish a task force to coordinate efforts to address environmental management.
He said the task force will include experts in issues of water management, natural
e n v i r o n m e n t a l management, climate change, mining, local government and finance. resource management,
Worried with over-dependence on biomass w h i c h s t r a i n s t h e environment, Chakwera said the task force will be mandated to come up with an action plan “for developing partnerships to leverage alternative energy sources that can sustainably meet demands exponentially rather than incrementally”.
Malawians both in urban and rural areas largely depend on charcoal and firewood as their main source of energy for lack of easy-to-get alternative sources. This has led to the sharp decline in the country’s forest cover.
Said the President: “Sadly, Malawi is losing forest cover at an alarming rate of about 32 000 hectares every year. The major driver of this loss is tree cutting for charcoal and firewood. To address this problem, my administration will be scaling up uses of alternative renewable energy sources.
“We will be promoting the development and adoption of alternative cooking energies such as briquettes, biogas and Liquid Petroleum Gas [LPG] as well as the growing of bamboos and fast-growing trees for sustainable charcoal production.”
He also indicated that his administration will look into reducing or removing taxes on materials that
promote use of alternative energy sources such as gas stoves and briquettes. He said his government will embark on serious forest restoration programmes.
The President’s address was comprehensive as it touched on several areas, including checking what he described as chaos in the mining sector.
Chakwera noted with concern that mining is done illegally an
anyhow without following set procedures.
The address also included promises in promoting fisheries, water resources and metrological services.
The President also committed to ensure that the thin plastic ban is effectively implemented.
He said: “To encourage citizen participation in this campaign against thin plastic use and littering, I am launching a National Clean-up Day for us to be part of the solution, not the problem.
“I call upon every Malawian to participate in the National Clean-up Day once the day is designated.”
The weekly briefing has become a tradition that every Monday State House provides an update to the nation on presidential engagements and also respond to questions from the press.
Yesterday’s briefing was the seventh in the series. Previous sessions were presided over by the President’s executive assistant and director of communication at State House Sean Kampondeni. However, this was the second time that the President graced the briefing.
During yesterday’s briefing, the President was accompanied by Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Nancy Tembo, who answered some of the questions. Minister of Information Gospel Kazako was also in attendance