LILONGWE (Reuters) – Malawi’s finance minister hopes the International Monetary Fund’s approval of a $26.9 million loan could lead to more global lenders unlocking budget support that was suspended three years ago over graft allegations.
The IMF said on Wednesday Malwai’s economy was on the right track after the fund completed its ninth and final review of the country’s economic performance under a program supported by an extended credit facility (ECF), allowing the global lender to make the loan.
“This is a very positive development because it signals that we are on the right track with our economic agenda and will help push for the much needed return of budget support,” Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe told Reuters on Thursday.
The loan brings total disbursements under the ECF arrangement, signed in 2012, to about $191.4 million.
“Strengthening public financial management, including through strong commitment controls, routine bank reconciliations, and regular fiscal reporting, remains critical to preventing the misappropriation of public funds and rebuilding trust and confidence in the budget process,” the IMF said in a statement.
Foreign aid has historically accounted for about 40 percent of the national budget.
Western donors led by former colonial ruler Britain froze budget support over a corruption scandal in which public servants siphoned millions of dollars from the public purse.
The World Bank resumed its budget aid to Malawi last month.
(Reporting by Mabvuto Banda; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo, Larry King)