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Import bill doubles

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The country’s monthly import bill has doubled within a space of five years, now standing at $200 million from $100 million in 2012, according to latest figures released by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).

An import bill is the total amount of imports made by a country at a given period – and includes both physical imports of goods and imports of services.

RBM has attributed the rise in Malawi’s monthly import bill to improved foreign exchange inflow which has boosted reserves but commentators feel this may equally imply that Malawians’ appetite for imports has substantially grown over the period under review.

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RBM spokesperson Mbane Ngwira said the country has been able to fetch more dollars now through growing export earnings, than was the case in the past.

Figures from the Central Bank also show that at the time of the kwacha devaluation in 2012, the country had about two weeks of imports, a position that has now improved to over five months.

RBM says it has been able to clear over $1 billion worth of export arrears that accumulated before 2012.

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In an interview, Ngwira said notwithstanding the depreciation of the kwacha by over 349 percent in nominal terms over the period, the forex reserves position has continued to substantially grow.

“Today, as a country, we have over five months of imports, a monthly import bill of over $200 million and payment arrears of over $1 billion was cleared and we have no payment arrears,” Ngwira said.

Ngwira reiterated RBM’s position that the devaluation of the kwacha was a “necessary evil.”

He said the move has borne positive fruits for the economy.

“We do not have any shortage of any product like fuel as we used to have because of lack of forex,” Ngwira said.

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