President Peter Mutharika has again pleaded for donor-aid countries to come to the country’s rescue as it passes through economic “tough” times.
Mutharika made the call on Tuesday during an interface meeting with journalists which he hosted at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.
Mutharika admitted that the country was passing through a critical phase and called for donor support as his government is working hard to fix the ailing economy through the adopted zero-aid budget.
The looting of public resources at Capital Hill, dubbed cashgate, forced development partners to withhold their budgetary support to Malawi. Donors provide 40 percent of Malawi’s budget.
An audit last year found that about K20 billion ($60m) had been skimmed from government funds.
Several government departments are running at barely a quarter of their monthly budgets and Police on Wednesday fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of school pupils protesting at the government’s delay in paying their teachers’ salaries.
About 6,500 teachers in public schools have not been paid since May, and around 1,000 are boycotting classes.
Mutharika said his administration has made a lot of progress to address concerns that led to the suspension of aid.
“They gave us some conditions to implement, and my government is undertaking some reforms to restore order,” Mutharika said.
He added: “But at this moment when we are going through a critical moment, we need all of us to work together. I should also appeal to donors to support us.”
But donors want Malawi government to provide objective evidence that the Public Finance Management (PFM) System, through which public officers stole K20 billion of taxpayers’ money, has been strengthened to avoid cash leak.
Donors urged Malawi to carry out public finance management reforms, pursue cashgate suspects, and guarantee the independence of the criminal justice system and to change leadership of some oversight and accountability institutions and provide more resources to them.
During the meeting with journalists, Mutharika also assured Malawians that the local currency, the Kwacha, currently facing depreciation against major foreign currencies, will soon be stabilised.
He disclosed that he will from next week announce a number of economic pointers government will undertake to unlock various challenges being experienced in the country including stabilization of the currency.
“We are working hard to fix things. Some of the things we are doing might be invinsible but we are working day and night. And soon Kwacha will stabilize and things will improve,” said Mutharika.
One of the pointers DPP-led government is expected to announce is a basic income for the poor as one way of eliminating poverty.
Government is also expected to start the much-touted cement and iron-sheet subsidy program.—(Additional reporting by Green Muheya, Nyasa Times)
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