Stop protecting IMF at the cost of Malawians -Mutharika

Malawian government officials should stop protecting the IMF at the cost of their own citizens, President Bingu wa Mutharika said on Thursday amid a public spat with the global lender.
Technocrats should not “protect the IMF but protect the people”, Wa Mutharika said in a speech that was broadcast on national radio.

Officials who were unwilling to do so had to resign from their public posts, he said at a rally of mostly peasant farmers in the central region of Ntcheu.

Mutharika: Stop protecting IMF

“I will be glad to receive your resignation,” he added.

Ties between Malawi and the IMF have worsened over the past year.

In June the international lender of last resort said its programme with Malawi was “off-track” as the government had failed to review a $79.4-million (55.7-million-euro) credit facility meant to cushion the chronic foreign exchange shortages.

The global lender had also disagreed with Malawi on the exchange rate, saying it was over-valued and discouraged foreign investment to the impoverished nation which depends on agriculture and donor inflows for economic survival.

But Malawi devalued the country’s currency by 10 percent two months later as it sought to revive the stalled programme with the IMF.

An IMF mission visited the country begin December to offer technical assistance that could solve the impasse. At the time an IMF official said the revival of the loan programme would require a subsequent review mission to monitor progress.

Malawi’s economy, faced by serious shortages of foreign exchange, has been hamstrung by suspension of donor inflows to the budget.

Donors, who provide 40 percent of the development budget that also pays salaries for the country’s nearly 170,000 civil servants, will wait for the IMF green-light in order to resume budget support.

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