The President of Malawi has halted overseas travels for government officials due to the devaluation of the currency.
The President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, has halted all international travels for himself and government officials in order to implement budget cuts and lessen the effects of the recent 44% depreciation of the local currency on the economy.
During his televised speech on Wednesday evening, Chakwera instructed a decrease of 50% in fuel stipends for high-ranking government officials, including members of the cabinet.
The Malawian Reserve Bank recently declared a devaluation of their national currency in order to match the value of the U.S. dollar on the illegal market. This decision led to immediate hikes in prices for nearly all goods, such as fuel and electricity, which saw an increase of more than 40%.
Chakwera acknowledged that his decision has caused significant distress and recognizes that we must all make significant changes to our spending in order to prioritize the most productive areas.
Chakwera announced that he would personally implement those changes and that all of his planned international trips for the rest of the fiscal year have been cancelled.
Chakwera stated that he will suspend all publicly-funded international trips for public officials at all levels, including those in parastatals or state-owned enterprises, until the end of the current fiscal year in March.
The speaker stated that all members of the Cabinet who are currently on publicly funded trips abroad must immediately return to Malawi.
According to analyst Victor Chipofya, Chakwera could have shared strategies to increase foreign currency for the nation instead of repeating unsuccessful ones.
“He stated that the nation must establish industries capable of exporting goods in order to acquire foreign currency. However, the president has not made any efforts in this regard.”
According to George Phiri, a political expert, Chakwera’s speech did not sufficiently explain how the government plans to tackle the issues affecting residents in rural areas, where more than 80% of Malawians reside.
“The impact of devaluation has affected everyone across the board, whether he is the president or he is an ordinary Malawian in the rural and is not considered for the beneficiary of the [farm input] subsidy,” Phiri said. “What happened with those?”
The Malawi Human Rights Defenders Coalition released a statement stating that the measures introduced by Chakwera could potentially mitigate the effects of devaluation on the country’s economy, if properly executed.