Consider reducing prices following Malawi Kwacha appreciation, Minister appeals

As the Malawi’s currency – the Kwacha – continues to register steady appreciation, Malawi’s Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa is appealing to the business community to respond accordingly.

Nankhumwa (left) with Finance and Economic development ministre Goodall Gondwe

Nankhumwa (left) with Finance and Economic development ministre Goodall Gondwe

In an interview with Nyasa Times on Friday, Nankhumwa said it would be commendable and reasonable if the business community also slashed prices of their commodities and services that were raised in response to the fall of the Kwacha.

“It made sense when the prices of the commodities and services had to go up following the slump in value of the Kwacha. Would it not make sense if the prices of those services and commodities also reacted to the appreciation of the Kwacha?” asked Nankhumwa. “In my view, it would make sense,” he added.

Malawi celebrated entry into the New Year with the Kwacha continuing to gain back its lost value. This followed happy news from Malawi’s central bank that the country’s import cover has risen to above the three months. Three months import cover is the minimum threshold for measuring the health of an economy.

Reserve Bank of Malawi spokesperson, Mbane Ngwira, confirmed this week that the country is now sitting on foreign exchange reserves exceeding 3 months of import cover.

Ngwira added that his institution expects the kwacha to continue gaining ground until the tobacco market opens in April.

Tobacco exports remain the country’s highest foreign exchange earner.

Ngwira attributed the developments to the tightening of the monetary policy through interest rates and the liquidity reserve ratio (LRR). Besides, he said, Malawi sold a government debt to the PTA Bank which, according to him, brought into the economy about US$200 million.

“This [PTA facility] has helped improve the forex situation,” said Ngwira.

The development has seen Malawi’s official foreign exchange reserves rising to US$586.11 or 3.07 months of import cover. Private Sector reserves, on the other hand, were recorded at US$345.13 or 1.81 months of import cover on December 24 from US$477.67 million or 2.5 months as at November 14, 2014, resulting into the subsequent appreciation of the kwacha against the green buck in recent days which was yesterday selling at around K471 to the dollar from about K520 by early November.

This is the first time in many years that the country’s foreign exchange levels have risen this high.

RBM recently increased the monetary policy rate to 25 percent from 22.5 percent and directed that the LRR on forex be met in kwacha and not in foreign currencies.

Ngwira said it is the indirect interventions by the central bank on the market that have resulted in the achievement of an improved forex position and appreciation of the kwacha.

“When the kwacha was depreciating, we tightened the monetary policy. We said we would not directly intervene in the market by pumping in dollars like others suggested. We also increased interest rates and mopped up excess liquidity,” explained Ngwira.

He said, however, that although the much sought after 3 months of import cover has been attained, authorities were not satisfied and want to make sure that the reserves grow even further to a level that would make the economy withstand any significant shocks.

Ngwira said with tobacco sales set to start in March or April, the monetary authorities are confident of building an even healthier reserve level in the coming months. He  said with tobacco market pre-financing expected in January and February, there are good signs of a further improvement in the official forex position.

“We are looking at a more stable currency in the coming months,” said Ngwira.

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mbangombe
Guest

Unfortunately govt has no clue on mechanisms that would help lower price of commodities. It’s itself a spectator when such scenario happens. It takes the wisdom and sympathy of merchandisers. Sorry friends.

njanji
Guest

Cement ndi malata,mhlu WA matemba komanso mtengo Ku zigayo atsitse

Alekhalibud
Guest

Mukufuna atsitse sompano kwacha ikagwanso akweze zopusa palibe chachitika apa…sompano igwela kuposa pamene inali paja

Barnes Saka
Guest

That is the right and good direction we should live to sustain. What is the government doing to curb the evils and unrealistic socio balances and
gaps..

Fuel, water, electricity rates and bus fares should be lowered for the betterment of the poor and vulnerable

Greencardless Malawian
Guest
Greencardless Malawian
During Bingu’s first term you used the same tactics to make people believe our economy was doing well but things backfired in the second term. This time you have borrowed money from motor engil….??? Will you please tell us what your terms of borrowing are before our country is sold off yo a private company? I know the saying ‘desperate times call for deasperate measures’ but not when the cobsequences will way so heavily on people who have no say on the decision making. Goodal and Peter must learn not to take Malawians for granted. This is not 2005, Malawians… Read more »
william
Guest

This is what we want as a nation.

Ngozo
Guest

Just bocoz you were talking too much when it was depreciating

chibiliti chikatoni
Guest

Shame on u mulakho.where on earth can u see this happening .
Go and do mathanyula

south ahlomwe
Guest

kill the ibu then economy wl be self

Concerned Citizen
Guest

Mr Minister, please challenge the private sector to give you the forex in 2015.

We are backward as a nation due to our docile/ sleepy private sector. There really needs to be a major shake up in 2015. The current private sector is not assisting in the development of the nation.

wpDiscuz

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