Malawi’s Chakwera unveils public spending cuts

APA-Lilongwe (Malawi)

President Lazarus Chakwera has instituted a raft of measures to cut public spending as part of efforts to cushion Malawians from global economic headwinds triggered by the Russia-Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announcing the spending cuts late Tuesday, Chakwera said the measures were meant to shore up the Malawi kwacha which has been on a free-fall in recent months and cushion Malawians from rising prices. 

“I know that the realignment of the exchange rate inflicts pain on all of you because any increase in the price of imported commodities forces you to cut your spending,” Chakwera said in an address to the nation. 

He added: “So it is important that we who are your public servants do the same, because the pain of making spending cuts due to the global rise in prices must be shared.” 

The measures I gave the Minister to cut public spending are as follows, and these may not be amended by any Government Ministry, Agency, Department, or Parastatal without prior authorization from my office: 

He announced that, with immediate effect, all public officers – including himself – who need to travel abroad for their work would be allowed to do so only if such trips are “out of absolute necessity”. 

The number of trips per official would be limited to no more than three “during the remainder of the year, unless in cases of unforeseen extreme emergency,” and the sizes of the delegations would be subject to stringent restrictions.

“No top-up allowances will be paid to public officers on fully funded trips for work, training, workshops or conferences (and) ministry officials traveling within the region for work must fly economy class,” he said.

All controlling officers would be held responsible for ensuring strict adherence to spending limits that have been set for domestic travel, the Malawian leader said.

Other measures include a limit on the number of meetings by boards of state-owned enterprises (SOEs); a 20-percent cut in fuel allocation for cabinet ministers; introduction of distance limits for government vehicles; a freeze on recruitment by SOEs; and a ban on imports of locally available goods or services.  

“These (measures) may not be amended by any government ministry, agency, department or parastatal without prior authorisation from my office,” Chakwera said. 

He also announced the appointment of Colleen Zamba as the new Secretary to the President and Cabinet with immediate effect, taking over from Zanga-Zanga Chikhosi who is going to be deployed elsewhere. 


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