The International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director, Christine Lagarde, has promised Malawi continued policy advice support and financial assistance to ensure the country registers impressive economic performance.
“Looking ahead, we at the IMF will continue to support Malawi policy advice, financial assistance under the programme supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and technical and training to strengthen capacity in macroeconomic management,” said Lagarde in her statement read in Lilongwe on Saturday.
Malawi is implementing a three-year IMF supported ECF programme worth $157 million (K54 billion) agreed last July and seeks to restore stability, boost growth and scale up social protection.
Lagarde said Malawi, just like any other sub-Saharan African country, has become increasingly integrated into the rest of the world which, she said, presents many risks to the landlocked nation.
The former French finance minister said key risks today include the global economic uncertainty and rising food prices.
“In this context, it will be essential for African countries to have strong macroeconomic frameworks, improve institutional capacity and ensure sustainable and inclusive growth in order to maintain the impressive economic performance of the last 10 years,” said Lagarde.
Commenting on the developments on the macroeconomic front, she said Malawi’s recent economic situation has been difficult citing drought conditions and lower-than-expected foreign exchange earnings which have dampened growth and contributed to a rise in inflation in 2012.
Lagarde said during her discussions with President Joyce Banda, she congratulated the President for the bold economic policies of her administration including the liberalisation of the foreign exchange market.
She noted that Malawi has already made significant progress in addressing the serious imbalances that were hampering economic growth ‘just a few months ago.’
“I also stressed the need to stay the course, while putting in place social protection programmes to alleviate the impact of the adjustment measures on the poorest households,” added Lagarde.
The IMF boss also said continued assistance from development partners will be essential to support Malawi’s on-going economic reforms.
During her visit, Lagarde met President Banda and her Cabinet as well as Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Charles Chuka.
She also exchanged views with Members of Parliament (MPs), development partners and business and civil society representatives including a group of outstanding women leaders.
On Saturday afternoon, Lagarde visited a group of women supported by the Macroloan Foundation of Malawi.
She said she was inspired by the group’s resilience and entrepreneurship.