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UK cuts aid to Malawi

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Williams Banda

The United Kingdom (UK) has cut aid to Malawi by more than 50 percent from £52 million (about K57 billion) per annum to £25 million (about K28 billion), the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) Annual Report shows.

This follows a decision by UK earlier this year to cut spending on foreign aid by reducing its annual aid budget line to 0.5 percent of its national income, from 0.7 percent, with the difference between the two figures being around £4 billion.

But when reacting, the Treasury said the reduction would be temporal and would be reversed if certain conditions were met.

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Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda said in an interview Tuesday that such decisions were outside Malawi’s control.

“We are aware that, globally, the UK has pledged to allocate a certain proportion of the budget to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), we hope that they will honour that pledge.

“With this cut in aid, Malawi will adjust its programming to take into account this reduction either by stopping those programmes altogether or by finding other partners to support those programmes,” Banda said.

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The UK Aid in Malawi is largely managed by the FCDO, and the scaling down of foreign assistance is likely to impact Malawians who were benefitting from UK Aid projects.

The National Planning Commission (NPC), a government entity entrusted to oversee framing and implementation of long-term development plans, however, believes this could be a wake-up call for Malawi to stop relying on donor aid.

NPC Communications Specialist Thom Khanje said Malawi could be positioned to move towards self-reliance.

“When you hear the donors are cutting aid, it’s a bad thing for Malawi but it can also be a blessing in disguise. Malawi has got a lot of potential in terms of revenue generation and commodity production.

“We have to be a country that is economically independent, so that is an issue that us we, policy makers, have to look at seriously and find ways of covering the gaps that could be created once the donors scale down,” Khanje said.

Top priorities for UK Aid to the country encompass issues such as supporting government accountability, increasing the resilience of poor Malawians, and making the economy more diverse and productive by building human capital.

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