A Malawi delegation will not travel to the US next month to attend IMF and World Bank meetings due to travel restrictions in the wake of the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19).
Both the IMF resident representative for Malawi Farai Gwenhamo and Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson Davis Sado confirmed the developments in separate interviews yesterday.
Gwenhamo said: “Given the growing health concerns, the IMF and World Bank agreed to implement a joint plan to adapt the 2020 IMF-World Bank spring meetings in a virtual format.”
Likewise, she also said unlike the previous arrangement, the IMF mission, which was scheduled to visit Malawi, has been cut to a two-member mission during March 10-13 fourth review of the IMF programme with Malawi, the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
“The rest of the meetings will be done virtually,” Gwenhamo added.
The joint spring meetings by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank were this year scheduled for April 17-19 and usually bring together some 10 000 government officials, businesspeople, civil society representatives and journalists from across the globe to a tightly packed, two-block area of Washington’s central business district that houses the headquarters of the two Bretton Woods institutions.
The meetings, just like the annual meetings held every October, offer Malawi an opportunity to engage the two institutions as well as other development partners and creditors on the country’s economic development programme.
The Malawi delegation, led by the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, comprises Secretary to the Treasury, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) and officials from the two institutions.
However, as a Malawi delegation was preparing for the meetings, just like many other member countries, the two institutions have announced that this year’s spring meetings will be held virtually; hence, no physical presence by delegates.
According to the two institutions, the decision has been arrived at to ensure the health and safety of participants and staff given concerns around Covid-19.
A team of experts from IMF was expected to be in the country between March 11 and 20 for the fourth review of the ECF programme performance up to end December 2019.
Speaking separately, Sado said the official stand is that the fourth review of the programme will still be conducted, stressing that Capital Hill has also learnt that IMF will send a “compressed” delegation to conduct the review.
He said: “But government is committed to reviewing the programme and we are closely working with the IMF resident office to find out the best way or platforms of how to review the programme.” After the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the IMF and World Bank cancelled their annual meetings scheduled for later that month in Washington DC. The meetings were reconvened in November 2001 in Ottawa, Canada.