Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera has implemented austerity measures, suspending all international travel for government officials, including himself and cabinet ministers, until the end of the financial year in March 2024.
The move is part of efforts to address the country’s economic challenges, including fuel shortages, increased food prices, and a scarcity of foreign exchange.
On economic hurdles people are facing, Chakwera assured Malawians that things will improve within 4 months.
He also ordered ministers currently abroad to return and outlined steps to reduce local travel by state officials. He emphasized that any deemed necessary travel must receive personal authorization from his office.
Furthermore, fuel entitlements for senior officials are to be cut in half immediately.
“Any travel deemed absolutely necessary by anyone during that period must be submitted to my office for my personal authorisation,” he said.
He added: “I order that all fuel entitlements for cabinet ministers, principal secretaries, directors and all members of senior management of Public Institutions should be cut in half with immediate effect.”
Chakwera aims to alleviate economic burdens faced by citizens, assuring that improvements can be expected within four months.
He plans to use funds saved from these measures to procure maize and fertilizer for the population.
Additionally, the President directed the Minister of Finance to explore salary increases for civil servants to mitigate the effects of currency devaluation.
Malawi recently devalued its currency, the kwacha, by about 30%, marking the second significant devaluation in response to economic challenges stemming from rising commodity prices and declining revenue from tobacco exports.
The first devaluation was in May 2022 in a bid to prop up dwindling foreign currency reserves pressured by rising commodity prices and declining revenue from tobacco exports.
The country has been grappling with a high cost of living, attributed to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Chakwera’s administration now faces the task of steering the nation through economic hardships and ensuring the well-being of its citizens.
The president beat incumbent Peter Mutharika in a presidential runoff in June 2020 in what was viewed as a triumph for democracy.
But life has become harder in recent years as the country faces a high cost of living that the government blames on the effects of Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.