A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) headquarters in Washington DC, USA, is in Malawi for two weeks to hold a series of discussions with various stakeholders on the economy.
During its tour, the team will meet government officials, representatives of the business community, civil society organisations and Malawi’s development partners on recent macroeconomic developments.
The team, led by the new mission chief for Malawi, Oral Williams, will also discuss with authorities about the IMF-supported programme, the Extended Credit Facility (ECF), currently off the rail due to the ravaging impact of the plunder of public funds dubbed Cashgate.
The team also comes at a time when the kwacha has drastically lost value against major foreign currencies, notably the US dollar, which has already sent shivers of likely corresponding multiplier effects of a higher than ever cost of living as prices of basic goods and services may jump.
A weak kwacha triggers an upswing trajectory in the prices of basic goods and services as importers pass on high costs of importing their goods to basic consumable goods.
IMF Malawi country representative Geoffrey Oestreicher said in an interview yesterday that the mission will discuss a variety of ‘pertinent’ issues surrounding recent economic developments.
But Oestreicher said the mission’s examination of the situation and discussions with the authorities are still ongoing; hence, premature to comment more on the issues.
In a separate interview, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Nations Msowoya said government is optimistic that the meetings will help government tackle some of the economic challenges gripping Malawi.
On his part, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said following Malawi’s poor showing on ECF, there were some people who thought that the programme should be cancelled to pave the way for a new one altogether.
But Gondwe said both the IMF and the World Bank agreed that ECF implementation should go on despite being off-track.
The ECF, approved in July 2012 and envisaged to phase out in November 2015, is worth $156.6 million.