Stakeholders gathered in Lilongwe for the High Level Dialogues and Hearing on Malawi’s Economic Recovery and Growth Conference.

The meeting came after four months since Malawi secured an Extended Credit Facility programme with the international Monetary fund (IMF) and was opened by finance Minister Simplex Chithyola Banda.

The stakeholders discussed issues about how best Malawi can make the most of the current ECF programme.

Despite securing a number of ECf programmes, only two have been successful. This was observed during the meeting.

Fiona Ritchie British High Commissioner to Malawi said what Malawians should understand is that the country is on a narrow path to growth and that what is critical is to keep the eye on the prize of long –term economic growth.

There would be some pain in the short term and that UK and other partners are here to cushion that as much as possible” said Fiona.

The long –term growth that she was talking about was the one that has to be led by the private sector. They have to focus on making life easier for Malawi’s exporter. And this, may not be visible to Malawi’s citizens in the short term but it is this kind of approach that is focusing on the private sector talking the lead that will improve the foreign currency situation in the country or bring in revenue.

Richie said it will increase tax and, more importantly, it will create jobs for Malawians that desperately need them. Development partners are here to catalyse that as much as possible.

Lingalireni Mihowa Oxfam Executive Director said the meeting is a civil society initiative led by Oxfam with  five CSOs namely Ecama, Mejin,Csat , Yas and Cisanet aimed at giving the government perspectives to help Malawi make the most of the recovering the economy quickly, in addition to diversifying it.

The CSOs believe that it is important that everyone pulls together to search for solutions to get this country to its vision as enshrined in the Malawi 2063” said Mihowa.

They are looking forward to sustenance of the momentum in the implementation of the Malawi programme under the Extended Credit Facility with the IMF. In this regard, they hope for the best in Malawi meeting the agreed targets so that the IMF July board can receive the report, consider it positively based on the performance and that they can have the next disbursement coming through.

Mihowa said, they are looking forward to courageous steps in public debt management to stop any increase on debt, promote increased parliamentary oversight on government borrowing loan authorization bills in the line with the country’s commitments in the Open Government Partnership.

She noticed that the CSOs expect a more robust implementation of the lfmis rollout to all ministries, departments and agencies.

According to her the CSOs expect increased transparency on procurements and beneficial ownership.

They acknowledged the efforts being made to reform Affordable inputs Programme. However even in its rationalized and revised state, the AIP is still a major cost burden on a tight deficit budget.

And they hope quicker and bold steps are taken to move resources from AIP to more productive social protection programmes” said Mihowa.

Ishmeal Mkumba Budget and Finance Committee Deputy Chairperson said adherence to the ECF guidelines is important but not easy.

He added that committee will play its rightful role in ensuring that Malawi stays the course on the ECF programme.

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