Malawi suspends official foreign travel to cut expenses

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has decided to temporarily ban himself and his government from traveling abroad, to help his country cut spending in the face of the economic crisis. The decision was announced after the IMF approved a $175 million loan.
“I am imposing a freeze on all state-funded foreign travel for all its officials at all levels (…) until the end of the fiscal year in March,” Lazarus Chakwera told television late on Wednesday November 15 evening.
Mr. Chakwera, a former evangelical preacher, will therefore not be attending the COP28 climate summit scheduled to start in late November in the United Arab Emirates. He has also ordered all members of his government currently on official travel abroad to hasten their return home, and a halving of the fuel budget for senior government officials.
Malawi, landlocked between Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, announced this week a 44% devaluation of its currency, the kwacha, in order to obtain the IMF loan. The country has struggled for decades to achieve sustained growth despite receiving large development aid budgets, according to the IMF.
“The last three years have been particularly difficult, with stagnant growth and growing macroeconomic imbalances fuelled by unsustainable debt and multiple shocks,” said the IMF, citing a recent cholera epidemic and a cyclone that killed more than 1,000 people this year.