President Peter Mutharika on Monday stressed that Malawi will meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirements during its next economic programme review scheduled for December 2015.
Malawi failed the IMF test with the Bretton Woods institution declaring the country’s economic programme off-track after failing to meet set targets for end-June 2015.
But addressing a news conference at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on the country’s participation at the Third India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi, India, the President condemned his critics, saying the country’s economy had not collapsed.
Said Mutharika: “Malawi’s economy has not collapsed. We are facing challenges, yes, but government is resolving them [the challenges] and to give an impression that the economy has collapsed is not good for the country.”
The President attributed IMF’s assessment that the country’s economic programme was off-track to the K40 billion domestic debt his administration inherited upon ascending to power following his triumph in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
He said government was forced to pay back through borrowing.
“I am optimistic that when they [IMF] come back in December for the next review, we will meet their requirements,” said Mutharika.
However, he did not outline measures his government had put in place to ensure that the country meets the IMF conditions.
In its review, the IMF revised downwards Malawi’s economic growth to about 3.3 percent from 5.5 percent and recommended a revision of the 2015/16 National Budget to reflect the economic realities.
But in an interview yesterday, Ben Kaluwa, an economics professor at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, wondered where Mutharika was drawing the enthusiasm to meet IMF conditions.
He said: “I don’t know where they are getting the optimism from. December is just around the corner and there is nothing I am seeing that can make the country meet the requirements. I very much doubt.”
Commenting on the Third India-Africa Forum Summit where he delegated Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation George Chaponda, the President said with the support from India, Malawi would soon bid farewell to water problems.
Malawi, among others, is set to receive about $23.5 million (around K13 billion) from the previous line of credit pledged in 2010 for Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to pump water from Mulanje Mountain to supply the water-stressed commercial city of Blantyre and parts of surrounding districts of Thyolo and Chiradzulu.
The summit, held from 26 to 29 October 2015 under the theme Partners in Progress: Towards a Dynamic and Transformative Development Agenda, was attended by 28 African heads of State and government, and is the official platform for evolving negotiations and monitoring parameters of the African-Indian relations.
Mutharika cancelled his trip to India at the eleventh hour due to what his advisers described as part of the austerity measures and instead delegated Chaponda who was accompanied by four Cabinet colleagues, among other delegates.