Minister banks on AfDB for budget support

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha says he is banking on a high-level African Development Bank (AfDB) dialogue mission for possible resumption of direct budget support.

During the discussions, the delegation, which is expected in Malawi in mid-December, is also expected to assess seven projects Capital Hill wants the Abidjan-based bank to bankroll.

Both Mwanamvekha and AfDB country representative for Malawi Eyerusalem Fasika confirmed about the visit in separate telephone interviews yesterday.

Mwanamvekha: There are a number of issues

Communication from AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina to the Malawi Government and addressed to Mwanamvekha indicates that AfDB is pleased with a line-up of projects Malawi has requested the bank to support financially.

Reads part of the letter The Nation has seen: “I have looked at the itemised projects and I am delighted that all the projects are aligned with the bank’s five-year Country Strategy Paper [CSP] for Malawi as approved in October 2018.”

In the letter, Adesina says the high-level mission, to be led by AfDB acting director for southern Africa region Josephine Ngure, will discuss a road map on how Malawi and the bank can accelerate the delivery of the rest of the identified projects, among other developmental issues.

During yesterday’s interview, Mwanamvekha said the gesture by the bank to send its mission to Malawi reflects the positive signal the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given many of Malawi’s development partners.

Said the minister: “We look forward to discussing with the bank a number of issues. High on the agenda will be the issue of budget support, but also on the outline of a number of projects that we need their support.”

Mwanamvekha said Treasury will take advantage of the meetings to lobby for AfDB’s financial support towards a list of seven projects, including Kholombidzo Hydro-electric Power Plant and the expansion of Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.

He declined to disclose the estimated amount of budget support that Treasury expects from the AfDB, saying that will follow the outcome of the impending discussions.

Two weeks ago, Malawi passed IMF test as reflected by the fund’s latest approval of resources amounting to $40 million (about K29 billion) to support Malawi’s reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of the devastating Cyclone Idai.

In a separate interview, Fasika also confirmed about the imminent visit by the banks mission, saying the tentative itinerary shows that the meetings will be held between December 16 and 19.

Two weeks ago, AfDB said it was encouraged by Capital Hill’s progress as reported by IMF, especially on the state of the economy.

Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Governor Dalitso Kabambe recently told The Nation that there is also assurance of resumption of budget support from the World Bank.

He said: “We have been assured that the bank is going to give us budget support.”

In 2013, donors suspended direct budget support to Malawi after revelations of abuse of public funds dubbed Cashgate in which civil servants and some private sector businesspersons connived to loot public funds through Integrated Financial Management and Information System (Ifmis), the Malawi Government’s electronic payment platform.

Before suspension of direct budget support, donors were injecting up to 30 percent into Malawi’s recurrent budget and at least 85 percent of the development budget.

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