Vice-President Saulos Chilima has challenged councils in the Northern Region to capitalise on the region’s natural resources and cultural diversity to develop it into an economic and tourism hub.
Chilima, who is also Minister of Economic Planning and Development and Public Sector Reforms made the remarks after meeting officials from Mzuzu City, Likoma, Karonga and Chitipa district councils at Sunbird Mzuzu yesterday.
Writing on his Facebook page after the meeting, the Veep observed great progress in reform areas being undertaken in the councils, but stressed the need for authorities to remain vigilant and change the mindset towards development.
He wrote: “In the meetings, I have continued to emphasise that the massive opportunities that exist in the hospitality industry, aviation, real estate and the mining sector here can only be activated and implemented when local councils create a conducive environment for growth.
“On its part, Chitipa District Council has ambitious plans for a sustainable revenue base which includes constructing a modern bus depot and stadium as well as tapping into potential revenue generation areas such as property rates.”
Chilima observed that the tourism potential in Likoma, Chitipa and Karonga is enormous, going beyond showcasing the Lake Malawi but marketing the region as well as boosting the production of honey, coffee and rice.
He was impressed with Chitipa’s idea to market the district with Misuku being one of the spots that could be turned into a serious tourist attraction area.
Likoma has prioritised infrastructure development as a catalyst for enhancing tourism and service delivery to the people on the islands, and Chilima has since urged the council to develop a masterplan and cost it for submission to Capital Hill.
However, Chilima expressed concern with the growing debt at Mzuzu City Council (MCC) and the loss of public trust.
“Mzuzu City Council is facing a number of problems ranging from a debt of K1.8 billion to loss of public trust, but its drive towards financial sustainability through estate development and an automated revenue collection system could go a long way in improving its financial standing to start embarking on projects that would satisfy the residents,” he said.
In an interview, MCC chief executive officer Gomezgani Nyasulu said the debt at the institution dates back to 2005, but they are working to resolve it.
Today, Chilima wraps up his engagements in the North by meeting Rumphi, Nkhata Bay and M’mbelwa District councils.