Malawi’s president suspends foreign travel for himself and cabinet members

President Lazarus Chakwera announced austerity measures aimed at healing the economy.

Lazarus Ckakwera
Malawi's President Lazarus Chakwera [File: Yves Herman/Pool via AP]

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has suspended all foreign trips by government officials, including himself.

The move, announced in a nationally televised address on Wednesday night, was part of what he called tough measures to heal the Southern African nation’s economy.

He also directed all ministers who are currently outside the country to return home and said the suspension will be in place until March next year.

“Any travel deemed absolutely necessary by anyone during that period must be submitted to my office for my personal authorisation,” Chakwera said.

The president unveiled a range of austerity measures, including cutting by 50 percent fuel entitlements for cabinet ministers and senior government officials.

Chakwera has faced criticism over his frequent foreign travel, local media reported. He said he would lead by example by curtailing his travel plans, including cancelling his attendance at the COP28 climate change conference in Dubai later this month.

As part of the measures, he also directed the minister of finance to include provisions for a reasonable wage increase for all civil servants in the midyear budget review.

And he ordered a lowering of income tax on individuals, so that workers whose incomes have lost value are helped with a “lower tax burden”.

Malawi is battling an economic crisis that has led to fuel shortages, inflated food prices, and a shortage of foreign exchange. Last week, the country’s central bank announced that it was devaluing the local currency against the United States dollar by nearly 30 percent.

Source: Al Jazeera