Britain says it will help Malawi stabilise its economy after the recent 49 percent devaluation of the kwacha by providing urgent assistance, visiting UK Secretary of State Andrew Mitchell assured on Wednesday.
Mitchell told journalists on arrival at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre that his government has been impressed with bold steps taken by the new administration of President Joyce Banda to tackle the countryâ€™s economic problems.
Said Mitchell: “I will hold talks with President Banda and senior Malawi officials following the decision to devalue the kwacha on advice from IMF. We will discuss immediate challenges facing Malawi and explore ways the UK can provide assistance.”
He disclosed that following discussions with the Governor of the Bank of England, Britain will provide a financial expert to help Malawi deal with the devaluation which, he said, is regarded by the international community as a step in the right direction for Malawiâ€™s long-term sustainable economic security.
Mitchell said Britain is determined to ensure that ordinary Malawians do not suffer short-term consequences from the devaluation.
Human rights reforms
Commenting on Bandaâ€™s stand to open debate on repeal of a law that criminalises homosexuality, Mitchell said he could not immediately comment on all aspects of issues, but hinted that London is â€œextremely impressedâ€ with the importance the Malawi leader is attaching to human rights and he is looking forward to discussing that issue with her.
Finance Minister Ken Lipenga, who welcomed Mitchell at the airport, said government is going to continue discussing with Britain from where they stopped to ensure that Malawians are not hurt by the devaluation.
The UK, according to a statement issued on Wednesday, says it welcomed the peaceful and democratic transition that recently took place in Malawi following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika.
Later in the afternoon, Mitchell visited Universal Industries Limited in Blantyre where said he was impressed with how a local manufacturing company is uplifting the lives of Malawians. He said this is what his government expects.
Universal Industries chairperson and managing director Dinshi Amin said they were honoured to be visited by Britainâ€™s high ranking official. He told journalists that his company was affected with the recent fuel and forex shortages and expressed hope that the new administration will provide solutions to the problems.
Relations between Malawi and the UK soured mid-last year after Malawi expelled the then British High Commissioner Fergus Cochrane-Dyet for allegedly describing Mutharika as “increasingly becoming autocratic” in a leaked diplomatic cable. Britain responded by expelling Malawiâ€™s Charge dâ€™Affaires in London Flossie Gomile-Chidyaonga and suspending aid.
. London mid-last year suspended its diplomatic links with Malawi and cut aid after relations soured with Lilongwe when the late president Bingu wa Mutharika deported Â Â Â Â British envoy Fergus Cochrane-Dyet.
. Britain is Malawiâ€™s former colonial master and among its major bilateral donors.