African Development Bank (AfDB) Group president Akinwumi Adesina on Tuesday played hide-and-seek on whether his institution will provide Malawi direct budget support, saying the bank will assess the situation before making a decision.
Speaking in an interview at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre where he led an AfDB delegation to a meeting with President Peter Mutharika, he said discussions with the Malawi Government were underway and the bank was always open to assist.
In mid-March this year, Mutharika, after meeting a delegation of AfDB executive directors that visited the country, pleaded with the bank not to abandon Malawi in terms of provision of budgetary support.
Ironically, the President’s appeal for budget support to the earlier AfDB team came days after Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe told Parliament that government was working on strategies to wean itself from donor dependence, especially on the recurrent budget.
Adesina said the AfDB has been a friend of Malawi since 1969; hence, the reason it continued providing support even after other donors withheld their budgetary support. At that time, AfDB provided $35 million (about $23.3billion).
He said: “So, we will see how the situation is. We are always open. It is our role as AfDB to lead and make sure that we support our countries to deal with the situation they face today.
“When that request comes to us, all I can say is that in as far as we are concerned as AfDB, we are very positive in terms of efforts being made and obviously we are ready to provide whatever necessary support that we can provide.”
The AfDB president said he realised that Malawi’s current situation was not by choice, but a result of several factors such as floods and the dwindling prices of commodities.
Several of Malawi’s bilateral donors continue to withhold budgetary support amid concerns of mismanagement of public funds in the wake of the 2013 revelations of the plunder of public funds widely known as Cashgate.n