President Banda hails IMF chief’s visit to Malawi

President Joyce Banda says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Mrs Christine Lagarde’s visit to Malawi is a vote of confidence in the economic reforms that her government are implementing aimed at improving the ailing economy.

Largade, whose organisation forced the admin of Joyce Banda to devalue the kwacha as a condition to receive a $157-million(125-million euro) three-year loan to fix its troubled economy,  begins her visit to Malawi  from  today (January 4)  to Sunday January 6.

“I am very excited with the IMF Managing Director Mrs Christine Lagarde’s visit to Malawi. It is a big boost to my government’s economic recovery programme,” said President Banda, according to a statement emailed to Nyasa Times by Presidential Press Secretary Steve Nhlane.

Lagarde arrived  through the Kamuzu International airport (KIA) at 12:30 hours in Lilongwe and was welcomed by Minister of Finance Dr. Ken Lipenga and Minister of Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe.

IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde talking to Minister of Economic Planning Goodall Gondwe as Minister of Finance, Ken Lipenga introduces him after arrival at KIA, Friday, In between Gondwe and Lipenga is Reserve Bank of Malaiw governor Charles Chuka.-Photo credit /Mana

Addressing journalists, Lagarde said:“I’m very much aware of the hardships the country is facing due to the devaluation of the Kwacha and the IMF supports the reforms that the government has put in place.”

Largade commended the government for its continuous efforts to put the economy back on track.

“IMF has 187 member states and they all work hand in hand to help each other in economic challenges that member states face,” said the IMF boss.

The IMF Chief will hold discussions with President Banda, cabinet ministers, economic experts, the business community, civil society as well as visit a micro-finance project in the country.

The discussions with the President, cabinet, government officials and economic experts are expected to focus on progress the country is making on economic reforms as well as chart the way forward for IMF programmes in Malawi.

Banda took over the presidency in April after the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika who vowed that he would never devalue the kwacha because its effects would hurt the poor.

Mutharika’s policies led to economic meltdown after the country was hit by global aid suspensions.

Malawi’s ties with the IMF broke down last year after the global lender suspended a $79.4-million credit facility meant to cushion chronic foreign exchange shortages.

Other donors, including the United States and former colonial ruler Britain, also put on hold funds that subsidised 40 percent of the state budget, citing concerns about growing authoritarian tendencies in Mutharika’s government.

Banda, who often says she found the economy in a total mess, easily bowed down to IMF demands to devalue its currency to secure a resumption of desperately needed aid.

The country has since launched an economic recovery programme designed to generate forex to meet huge import bills of fuel, medicine and other essentials. Malawi spends $200 million every month on imports.

Recent approval by the IMF Board of the first review of implementation of the recovery program demonstrates clearly the successful implementation of the recovery program. This should go a long way to improve the foreign exchange situation in the months ahead.

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