United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi on Thursday clarified his statement purporting that donors will only resume budget support if there will be regime change in the May 20 Tripartite Elections.
Atupele told a rally in Mzuzu on Sunday that alongside his running mate Godfrey Chapola they met representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and other development partners last Friday.
He reportedly said the development partners told opposition leaders they would only support the budget if there is change of government.
But European Union (EU) and the World Bank explained that disbursement of budget support is based on macro-economic stability as assessed by the IMF and the public finance management-related assessments of fiduciary risks.
However, on Thursday during a rally he held in the central region district of Ntchisi, Atupele said his comments were “grossly misinterpreted and taken out of context.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times after the rally, Atupele said he indeed met with World Bank and IMF teams, as part of their routine consultation meetings in country.
“I certainly believe that these consultations, which are based on sharing views on Malawi’s economy and development prospects, are critical, and it is right that they are broadened to a range of Malawian stakeholders, and not just Government. This is a fundamental principle of genuine public participation and we are certainly one of the stakeholders,” he said.
Said Atupele: “I wish to re-emphasise that at no point in this discussion did the IMF and World Bank teams provide a view on the political situation or a preference for a presidential candidate. Such a view would indeed be inappropriate.”
The UDF torch bearer nonetheless said the meetings with the development partners he noted two fundamental concerns on the state of the economy and the country’s vision for changing Malawi’s development path which forms the core of UDF Agenda for Change.
Atupele, who resigned as Economic Planning Minister in the Joyce Banda administration, said he was concerned with the state of Malawi’s economy that it is not growing.
“We have a very high debt burden, poverty remains rampant with inequality on the increase and we are unable to finance our most basic public services.
“Our economy is on the edge of a very dangerous situation, and it requires decisive, prudent and expert management. Moving Malawi out of this quagmire will need a new generation of leaders. Leaders who are willing to listen, not just to those that they identify with, but with every Malawian across the urban and rural strata including the disadvantaged, such as the youth, women, disabled.
“These leaders must be able to master the discipline to deliver on their promises, demonstrate results and be held accountable to their commitments. They must understand that their duty is to serve the Malawi, and not to be served by it,” he said.
Atupele said his party “applaud” the donor’s decision to suspend budget support “in light of poor financial management.”
He said until Malawi’s leaders are able to “ succinctly demonstrate” that they can reform public finance management systems to make the public purse work for all Malawians; empower institutions that enhance transparency and accountability to effectively monitor these efforts; ensure that leaders (especially within cabinet) hold themselves accountable to the use of resources within this public purse and articulate the relevant results; systematically implement the recommendations of the Cash Gate Audit report; the country has “no right to ask for resources from its external partners including donors.”
Atupele said Malawi “need to put our house in order first before we ask for any resources from our partners.”
Malawi’s national budget is financed 40 percent by donors on the recurrent expenditures and 80 percent on development expenditure. Last November, the country’s major donors under the Common Approach to Budget Support (Cabs announced the withholding of $150 million in budget support in protest over plunder of public resources at Capital Hill widely known as Cashgate.
Last week, an IMF mission from Washington led by Tsidi Tsikata said the IMF will wait for the elections before it releases a $20 million (about K8.4 billion) disbursement into the government purse as part of the Extended Credit Facility programme.
Tsikata also said the mission had proposed to return to Lilongwe in June to confirm the recommendations agreed before submitting a report to the IMF management and Executive Board.
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :