Economics expert optimistic new ECF programme signals confidence

An economist from Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences Betchani Tcheleni says Malawi needs Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme which signals confidence to other development partners.

Tcheleni’s remarks come following revelations that Ministry of Finance is in discussions with Inter1 Monetary Fund (IMF) on the new ECF.

The economist has challenged the Ministry to trade carefully in the discussions to ensure that Malawi benefits from it.

“The terms of the facilities need to be carefully negotiated. As much as we are desperate, we should not hang ourselves carelessly. The interest payments and levels must be agreed upon carefully. 

Tcheleni: The terms of the facilities need to be carefully negotiated

“At the moment, the ECF is something we need. We may not play around it carelessly. We are in a bounty period where we have started to gain some foreign exchange but we still need more foreign exchange,” said Tcheleni.

Ministry of Finance had earlier announced its plans to conclude the negotiations by April this year to consider some of the agreements and conditions in the next financial plan.

Nevertheless, it remains unclear if the discussions would be concluded prior to the passing of the 2021/22 1 budget, which Finance Minister Felix Mlusu is expected to table in Parliament on Friday.

In reaction, Ministry of Finance spokesperson Williams Banda reserved his comments on the delay in concluding the negotiations but retaliated that the new ECF programme will be in line with the 2021/22 budget.

“The discussions are progressing well and the public will be informed once finalised. Obviously, this would be before the end of this financial year. The new ECF programme will be in tandem with the 2021/22 fiscal year,” Banda said.