IMF-sanctioned reforms “hurting Malawians”

26 June 2013

Voice Mohne, chair of the council for non-governmental organisations in Malawi, declared to President Joyce Banda at a May public meeting that the adoption of the “full set of IMF reforms” by Banda’s government (see Update 84) was “too much for an average Malawian to absorb”, because “there is no meaningful safety net mechanism”. Banda responded that her government “will remain focused on the course we have taken”. In late April IMF deputy managing director, Naoyuki Shinohara, backed the automatic fuel pricing mechanism currently being followed in Malawi, arguing that there are “better ways to use the scarce resources”. Earlier that month, Emeka Chiakwelu, of the Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center, wrote an analysis of the policies which have included “substantial” devaluation of the Malawian Kwacha (which has fallen by over 50 per cent since the currency peg was abandoned), trade liberalisation, the requirement to “rein in spending by removing subsidies given to the poor” and “privatise publicly-owned enterprises”. Chiakwelu argued that together these policies meant that the “shock therapy by the IMF may threaten the economic and political stability of Malawi that president Banda pledged to stabilise”.