On their part, Norway, Britain and Germany ambassadors did not bother to hide in diplomatic speak for their positions.
Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi Kikkan Haugen said Norway officially informed the Government of Malawi in 2015 that general budget support will not be resumed.
“Norwegian development support will continue at a high level, but be channelled through other modalities, in close collaboration with the Government of Malawi and other stakeholders,” said Haugen.
For Britain’s High Commissioner to Malawi Michael Nevin—whose government was, until four years ago, Malawi’s largest bilateral donor-said London’s position on resumption of direct budget support has not changed since 2011.
Said Nevin: ‘‘It is a policy, but the funds are still there and benefiting the people of Malawi through offline mechanisms.’’
In a separate interview, German Ambassador to Malawi Peter Woeste said for the foreseeable future, Germany does not consider direct budget assistance being a useful and appropriate instrument to reach the poor in Malawi.
But he said together with the Government of Malawi, they have been developing new ways of assistance.
Woeste said Germany has more than doubled its support to Malawi since 2011, which now totals 219.7 euro million-mostly in form of grants aimed at reducing poverty in the country.
But he said there is little to report on Malawi’s progress on PFM reforms, calling for everyone to get involved in the push for fiscal management changes.
“Reforming the public finance and economic management should not be a question of pleasing donors, but in the interest of every Malawian. Hence, it is important that the reform process is driven by Malawians themselves.
‘‘More than two years after Cashgate, I would have hoped being able to report to my headquarters about relevant progress on the [PFM] reforms in Malawi,’’ said Woeste.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had not responded to our questionnaire by yesterday, but mid last month advised Malawi to accelerate PFM reforms to restore trust and confidence in the budget process and foster donor re-engagement.
Angered by Cashgate uncovered in 2013, major donors withheld direct budget support to Malawi worth $150 million, leaving a huge fiscal gap at Capital Hill.
It was only multilateral donors such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the EU that were flexible enough to provide some direct aid.
But now with EU-a heterogeneous multilateral body largely insulated from the influences of its powerful members-saying enough is enough, its decision could be contagious to the last holdouts; fellow multilaterals World Bank and AfDB. n