IMF team expected in Malawi next week

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) team is expected to visit the country on May 22, Finance Minister Dr. Ken Lipenga has confirmed.

Lipenga told Nyasa Times on the sidelines of the just ended pre-budget consultative meetings in Blantyre that the IMF team is expected to hold what he called “regular contact” meetings with Malawian authorities and would get donors to contribute funds for political reforms.

“The IMF would jet into the country on the 22nd of this month, among the topical issues to be discussed is the revamping of aid which is key to the country’s economic growth,” said Lipenga.

Lipenga: IMF coming

Meanwhile, IMF representative Ruby Randall has confirmed the visit saying, “the IMF expects to recommend the approval of a new programme for Malawi to its executive board after the mission returns to Washington in June.”

The meeting follows Malawi through its central bank’s decision to devalue its kwacha by a third against the dollar. This was a key IMF demand to get the country’s ailing economy back on track.

Randall told media recently that she welcomed the “important measures” that would help liberalize the foreign exchange market, increase foreign exchange and bolster investor confidence in the country.

Malawi’s relations with the IMF soured last year during the late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s rule. This resulted in the leading global lender’s suspension of a $79.4-million credit facility meant to cushion chronic foreign exchange shortages.

Malawi’s President Mrs. Joyce Banda has moved swiftly to heal breaches with international donors following the sudden death of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika from a heart attack last month.

Mutharika had resisted devaluation, arguing it would trigger inflation and hurt the poor in where UNDP figures indicate that 39% of the 13-million citizens live on less than a dollar a day.

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