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IMF team to attend Mid-budget review

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said its visiting mission team, expected in the country next week—to discuss the next Extended Credit Facility (ECF)—will attend part of the Mid-Term Budget Review session to get an understanding of the performance of the 2017/2018 Budget.

The IMF and Ministry of Finance confirmed the visit on Wednesday. The team is expected to spend two weeks in the country and will hold meetings with different stakeholders, before engaging authorities on the next programme.

In an interview, IMF Malawi Resident Representative, Jack Ree, said attending the budget review session is important for the mission as it will provide an insight on what to include in the next programme.

“The team, comprising five people, including the Mission Chief, Pritha Mitra, from the IMF headquarters in Washington DC, arrives on January 31 in Lilongwe, months after an assessment of the previous ECF, which mainly focused on macro-economic stability,” Ree said.

He said the IMF hopes to get some guidelines on Malawi’s plan for the Mid-Term-Budget before the end of the mission and provide meaningful inputs.

Ree said during the discussions, the mission would try to identify ways to tackle unfinished project from the previous programme while safeguarding and building on the gains made.

“We need to find ways of addressing Malawi’s huge infrastructure investment needs, including the energy sector, in a fiscally sustainable fashion,” Ree said.

In a separate interview, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, Davis Sado, said the pillar for the new ECF programme is on micro-economic stability, so as to enhance growth of the country’s economy.

He said government is focusing on managing interest rates and other fundamentals to spur growth.

“We are prepared for these talks after holding consultations with various stakeholders on the previous ECF. We think the private sector is covered with the pending new facility,” Sado said.

Close to the end of 2017, IMF and the government said Malawians should expect a new programme, probably in the second quarter of 2018.

The development follows the conclusion, in June 2017, of a three-year ECF amounting to $156.2 million.

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