If pronouncements from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Malawi Country Office are anything to go by, Malawi might return to the IMF supported Extended Credit Facility (ECF) that went off-track in 2011.
Should the IMF Executive Board give the nod, a development that may also give a green light to other development partners to consider Malawi an entity worth doing business with, it will not be the first thing that has happened.
If truth be told, in 2005/06 donors gave Malawi the benefit of the doubt after the IMF had put the country on a staff-monitored programme. Then, a year or so later, Malawi demonstrated ability to manage the economy and public finances well enough to attain debt relief as well as a return to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) with IMF.
This time around, Malawi finds itself in a situation where so far indications are that in terms of public finance and economic management, especially coming against the backdrop of Cashgate—the plunder of public resources at Capital Hill, there is a demonstration of things heading in the right direction.
The ball is now in government’s court to improve and sustain the ECF benchmarks. This is especially important now because we seem to be notorious for taking two steps forward and five steps backwards.
Having said that, we also appeal to development partners to consider supporting the positive steps undertaken so far such as strengthening of public finance management tools, economic management and prosecution of those suspected to have perpetrated the same. Surely, the Peter Mutharika administration deserves support and encouragement for the strides taken so far.
In the absence of channelling support through central government, donors have claimed that they are assisting the country through other means. However, to date, no donor has cared to say where and how such resources ‘channelled through other means’ are accounted for. The impact of such support seems scattered with lack of coordination, harmonisation and a clear accountability plan for results.
Let us hope for the best from IMF and, when the deal is done and sealed, consolidate on the gains so that Capital Hill restores lost confidence.