In a bid to revive the country’s economy, President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi has announced a ban on foreign travel for himself and other members of his government until March 2024. He made the announcement on national television on Wednesday night, saying that the measure was necessary to reduce the cost of governance.
He also instructed all ministers who are currently abroad to return home immediately, and said that any travel request during the ban period must be personally authorised by him. “Any travel deemed absolutely necessary by anyone during that period must be submitted to my office for my personal authorisation,” Chakwera said.
The president also revealed other austerity measures, such as cutting fuel allowances for cabinet ministers and senior government officials by half. He said he would lead by example by cancelling his planned attendance at the COP28 climate change conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, later this month.
Additionally, he directed the finance minister to include provisions for a reasonable wage increase for all civil servants in the midyear budget review. He also ordered a lowering of income tax on individuals, to ease the “lower tax burden” on workers whose incomes have lost value.
Malawi is facing economic challenges that have resulted in fuel shortages, high food prices, and a lack of foreign exchange. Last week, the country’s central bank announced that it was devaluing the local currency against the US dollar by nearly 30 percent.