Honourable Folks, Finance Minister Ken Lipenga on Wednesday this week told Parliament that an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission will arrive in Malawi in March.
The eloquent minister said while the IMF teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s main focus would be on Article IV, Malawi hopes they would also take time to review the derailed Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
Under Article IV of the IMF Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members, usually every year. As such, I have no qualms with the minister telling us about the IMFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mission jetting into the country.
However, it is the second part of the ministerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s speech where I have serious qualms. The minister said Ã¢â‚¬ËœMalawi hopes they would combine the mission with the derailed ECFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
My question is: why does Malawi hope so? In hoping so, what does Malawi aim to achieve if what Lipenga hopes for materialises?
By now, we should all be aware that ECF went off track last year because of disagreements between the IMF and the Malawi Government.
Tensely contentious in the disagreement is the issue of devaluating the kwacha.
The IMF, as a condition of reviving the ECF, wants our Ã¢â‚¬Å“overvalued currency loosened from the current K167 per dollar to between K230 and K250Ã¢â‚¬Â.
President Bingu wa Mutharika has hardly minced words, even to the extent of insulting, in protest to the IMFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s position.
He has consistently argued that further devaluation would only benefit the rich and gravely hurt the poor because commodity prices would skyrocket.
Now, when you have two elephants stuck to their guns thus, each determined and poised to carry its way, what befalls us, the very people, both the IMF and Mutharika claim to protect?
Now when both sides are determined thus, each constant to its philosophy like a northern star, why should Lipenga keep saying, Ã¢â‚¬ËœMalawi hopes they [IMF] would combine the mission with the derailed ECFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
In fact, in his Mid-Year Budget Review Statement presentation to Parliament, Lipenga ruled the ECF out.
And earlier, Mutharika, while selling his Ã¢â‚¬ËœNo to devaluation propagandaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ to the chiefs, announced that from March 2012, Capital Hill will take control of the monetary policy.
He bluntly maintained that from March Malawi will control its monetary policy not the IMF because this is our country.
With such tough talk, why should we still be hearing about this ECF talks?
This whole thing puzzles us; in fact it is making fool of us, the voters, who are at the receiving end of these tirades.
Let Mutharika and his Cabinet go ahead, in silence, to control its monetary policy and shut up.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to have hope in issues that I know have failed a thousand times before. The point is: Malawi government has made its position on the ECF, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time they go for it. Otherwise, I am one of the many who are gravely sick with this ECF song!