As the United States (US) government entered day three of operating without a budget yesterday, its embassy in Malawi has expressed concern about the impact of the shutdown in the long run.
But the embassy has assured Malawians that the shutdown would ‘generally’ not affect assistance Washington provides to Lilongwe in the areas of health, economy and governance.
The US government is undergoing a partial shutdown after its House of Representatives refused to pass the Federal Budget in protest against a widely popular Health Care Insurance legislation advanced by President Barack Obama’s administration.
US Embassy public affairs officer Gabriel Hons-Olivier said in an interview, the embassy and its consulate sections were operating using funds left over from last year.
“Many of our foreign assistance activities are funded prior to the beginning of a fiscal year, such that in the event of a government shutdown during the initial period of a US fiscal year, foreign assistance-funded programmes generally should be able to continue operations,” he said.
Hons-Olivier added that the US Embassy would continue to provide visa services and assistance to American citizens in Malawi despite the government shutdown.
“Similarly, the embassy will continue to conduct US foreign relations engagements as usual throughout this period,” he said.
Over 700 000 non-essential staff of the US civil service have been given unpaid leave pending a solution to the impasse.
According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, some government departments have halved staff numbers.