In a bid to address the economic challenges facing Malawi, President Lazarus Chakwera has made the decision to impose a travel ban on himself and his government. This initiative aims to reduce public spending and provide support for the country’s struggling economy. The move comes shortly after the approval of a $175-million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
President Chakwera announced the ban in a televised address on Wednesday, revealing that all publicly funded international trips for public officers at all levels will be frozen until the end of the financial year in March. Consequently, the President will not be attending the COP28 climate summit scheduled to take place later this month in the UAE.
Additionally, all cabinet members currently abroad on publicly funded trips have been instructed to promptly return home, and a 50-percent reduction in fuel allowances for senior government officials has been mandated.
This cost-cutting measure follows Malawi’s recent announcement of a 44-percent devaluation of its currency in order to secure the IMF loan. Despite receiving significant official development assistance, the country has faced ongoing challenges in sustaining growth, as highlighted by the IMF’s observation of stagnating growth and macroeconomic imbalances caused by unsustainable debt and multiple shocks, including a recent cholera outbreak and a devastating cyclone that claimed the lives of over 1,000 people earlier this year.