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IMF team in for talks

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Williams Banda

By Deogratias Mmana:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief for Malawi Mika Saito arrived in the country yesterday to hold final talks with local authorities on the Extended Credit Facility (ECF).

Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda confirmed Saito’s arrival in the country and the agenda for the team.

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Banda said in an interview that Saito is accompanied by IMF Director for African Department Abele Selassie.

“The IMF Mission Chief for Malawi is in the country for final discussions on the new Extended Credit Facility,” Banda said.

Sources said Sunday that the IMF team is expected to meet Vice President Saulos Chilima and President Lazarus Chakwera before addressing a news conference at the Ministry of Finance.

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The sources said one of the issues to be discussed is the Affordable Inputs Programme, especially where the list of the beneficiaries has been maintained.

Banda was mum on the meetings between the IMF team and Chakwera and Chilima but he confirmed about the press conference where he said the Minister of Finance Felix Mlusu will also be in attendance.

Last week, Mlusu expressed worry over the delay by the IMF to restart the ECF.

He said discussions were underway but the IMF was taking time to restart the programme.

Mlusu said some of the factors that led to the delay for IMF to restart the ECF included a high debt stock estimated at K4.76 trillion as of December 2020

He also said the discussions have also been delayed because the former Democratic Progressive Party administration misreported to the IMF on Gross Reserves Assets and Net International Reserves for the period 2018 to 2019.

Reserve Bank Governor Wilson Banda said at the press conference that Malawi is failing to access $300 million for the Development Policy Operation of the World Bank because of the absence of ECF with the IMF.

The Tonse Alliance government cancelled the ECF programme which was running from 2018 to 2021 because among other things, it was noted that some of the critical programme targets were missed.

Consequentially, this meant that Malawi forfeited $70 million (about K53 billion at that time’s exchange rate).

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