A three day multi stakeholder’s conference on the Malawi economy started Friday in the capital Lilongwe with International Monetary Fund Deputy Director of the African Department Mr David Owen calling for a critical review of the economic reform measures adopted by the southern Africa state and possible challenges lying ahead in line current external shocks.

Under the theme “Malawi-Towards More Inclusive Growth”, the symposium has been organized by the IMF, the Reserve Bank of Malawi and the Finance Ministry.

A high level IMF mission team which is currently in the country to assess Malawi’s performance in line with the recently approved Extended Credit Facility – ECF – programme is banging heads with key players of the economic sector.

Speaking when opening the conference President Joyce Banda reiterated that Malawians must endure the pain brought by her government’s reforms, but said the problems will be short-lived.

She said the new ECF programme will help restore macroeconomic stability in no time.

“Government is aware of the pain that the reforms have on our society, especially the vulnerable.

“In this regard Government is implementing a number of social programs to cushion the poor against the negative impacts of devaluation,” she said.

She said Malawi government is on track to achieving economic recovery following the adopted reforms and the new ECF programme.

“The restoration of a programme relationship with the IMF is a key achievement of my administration. It has helped to pave the way for the restoration of macroeconomic stability and mobilization of enhanced support from several of the country’s key development partners,” noted Mrs Banda.

In July last year, IMF declared the ECF programme for Malawi ‘off track’ as a result of government’s failure to meet some of the fund’s recommendations under the leadership of the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika.

He strongly stood against reform measures such as the currency devaluation, arguing it would trigger inflation rise and in turn hurt the poor.

The Fund recommended a new three-year ECF program worth $ 157 million following President Joyce Banda’s bold steps towards economic recovery. Most the measures such as devaluation were recommended by the IMF.

But the reforms have had a negative impact on poor Malawians as analysed by Malawi Economic Justice Network Executive Director Dalitso Kubalasa.

Malawi’s economy has in the recent past been faced with challenges ranging from the ever rising inflation coupled with a rise in basic goods prices and high transportation costs triggered by instability of prices of petroleum products.

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