IMF chief predicts double growth for Malawi in 2013: JB pledges to improve governance record

International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde has predicted that Malawi’s GDP is more likely to double in 2013 due to reforms the Joyce Banda administration has made since April 2012.

Lagarde was speaking on Friday  at Kamuzu Palace in the capital  Lilongwe after she had an audience with President Banda and other top government officials Friday on a three-day official visit to “support the President and government” over its economic recovery programme.

IMF director met President Banda, who has been criticized by domestic opponents for sharply devaluing the national currency in line with prescriptions from the global lender that are designed to make the economy competitive, but said IMF is very impressed with the economic reforms she has made since ascending to power and asked her not to waver on those reforms.

“Malawi is on the tip of economic gains and there is need to stay on the course” said Lagarde who is in Malawi for a two day official visit.

After discussion Friday, IMF Chief takes leave of President Banda at Kamuzu Palace-Photo credit MANA

Lagarde said the IMF will stand with Malawi and the Washington-based international lender is aware that the devaluation that her government introduced is hitting hard on the poor, but the economy will heal soon.

She said her visit is to see how IMF “can support economic reforms that are being implemented.”

Commenting on their discussions, President Banda said: “I have committed my government to do all it takes to turn around the economy for I know that political will starts with the leadership and in this case it starts with me.”

President Banda told the IMF boss that she has been taking difficult decisions that could have destroyed her political career, but she had to take those decisions to take the country on recovery path.

She said Malawi remains very indebted to IMF.

“As government we are pleased that the first review of the Extended Credit Facility program went on well and we are grateful for the disbursement of the 20 Million United States Dollar.”

Banda however agreed with her critics that the economic reforms have had negative impact on the livelihood of the people however said that her government has been implementing social protection programs in order to cushion the poor.

The Malawi leader informed the IMF chief that she has also initiated Ministerial Delivery Meetings to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in public service delivery.

“These meetings have provided me with insight in the state of the public service, opportunities and challenges as well as issues of accountability, transparency and corruption,” she said.

President Banda also assured IMF boss that her government will continue to improve on its governance record, by among other things respecting the rule of law, observance of human rights, and the independence of the three arms of government, the freedom of the media.

She said her government will also be engaging opposition parties, civil society and private sector in formulation of national policies.

Several cabinet ministers including the Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka SC and Reserve Bank Governor Charles Chuka attended the meeting at Kamuzu Palace which took over three hours.

Lagarde is in the country at the invitation of President Joyce Banda.

While in the country Lagarde is expected to meet the budget and Finance committee of Parliament, representatives of the Malawi chambers of Commerce and Industry and visit the Micro-loan Foundation.

IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde speaking to reporters in Lilongwe.-Photo credit – MANA

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