President Peter Mutharika has again said that his DPP government inherited empty government coffers due to the ‘cashgate’ financial scandal that led international donor partners to withhold financial support to Malawi but is very determined to improve living conditions of Malawians at end of his first term in 2019.
Mutharika said from Washington DC in United States in an interview with Voice of America that that due to cashgate, cooperating partners withdrew their budgetary support to the country and his administration is running on zero-aid financial plan.
Donors account for nearly 40 percent of Malawi’s budget.
“It was a challenge when I took over the government, the import cover was only three weeks; it’s now almost six months,” said Mutharika on VOA, adding “there was almost no reserve to speak off,” he added.
Mutharika, who will clock one year in office next month, said he has focused on improving people’s lives by hitting the reset button of governance to improve the economic situation, saying the economy is stabilising.
“Now we have almost close to a billion U.S. dollars: about 600 and something in the reserve bank and about 3 million in the private banks and the bureaus.
“Total is about a billion [dollars]. It has never happened – the highest accumulation in the history of Malawi and I hope that we can double that. So I am excited about that now the Kwacha has now stabilized,” Mutharika said.
He said DPP government is “very determined” to turn Malawi’s economy round and allow steady growth outlining austerity measures.
Mutharika outlined his battlelines:”For the last 11 months, we have been operating on our own with no donor support; we used our own resources – proper collection of taxes, cutting back on spending, travels and all these kinds of things. For example, I reduced the size if cabinet, eliminating seven ministries, we want 18 ministries, a cabinet of 20 including the president and the vice president. That saves us K20 billion [$50 million] for over five years.
“I have also cut back on travel, proper management, ministers everybody including myself and that is saving us K70 billion [$175 million] in five years. For us, that’s a lot of money and that alone makes a difference,” he added.
Mutharika said Malawi still needs assistance from its international donors to help with infrastructure development to boost the economy.
The Head of State expressed the hope during the VOA interview that the new financial measures his administration has implemented would wean the country from dependence on foreign donors in the next five years.
Mutharika said before his first term expires in 2019, he wants to improve the living conditions of Malawians and to ensure that citizens are better off than when he was elected into office.
“At the end of the five years, I would hope that people would see that Malawi got better, their lives got better in terms of their personal lives and their incomes and other social instruments that make life comfortable, and they will see more infrastructural development in the country,” he said.
Mutharika already declared that he will contest in 2019 elections.