Malawi should continue pursuing the current economic reform policies as they have started bearing fruits, World Bank country representative Laura Kullenberg has said.
Kullenberg said this when the bank and the government signed a grant of US$29.8 million under the Agreement for Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA).
APPSA is a regional agricultural research programme that benefits three countries—Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. Backed by the IMF and World Bank, the current administration made fiscal and monetary reforms upon taking over power last year.
The reforms triggered criticisms including observations that they were being implemented without adequately cushioning the poor from their consequences.
But speaking in an interview, Kullenberg said the bank was optimistic about the economic recovery due to the reforms government has been implementing.
“Obviously, the economy has been under great transformation. There are a set of policies by the government supported by the World Bank which were put in place to help achieve macro-stability. We are pleased to see the change and transformation and there are supply responses; hopefully it will continue,” said Kullenberg.
She described the relationship between the bank and Malawi government as perfect. Kullenberg said the bank and Malawi government continue to engage in fruitful and cordial dialogue.
“I am very excited to be here. We have just approved a World Bank Country Assistance Strategy which is very rich and diverse; but also very focused.
“We are working on three strong central goals, we are working in a variety of ways and it’s a great opportunity to engage deeply including in the micro-finance management, banking and public finance.
On the project, Kullenberg said beyond the project’s regional approach, it will locally increase productivity of smallholder farmers by developing and spreading innovative technologies.
Finance Minister Ken Lipenga applauded the bank for the support towards the regional project saying it will promote food security at national level.
“The Chitedze Research Station has been identified as the Regional Centre of Leadership which will promote technology generation and dissemination for the maize crop while Mozambique and Zambia will focus on rice and legumes, respectively,” said Lipenga.
Lipenga said the World Bank’s commitment to Malawi beyond agriculture is now close to US$1 billion with the bank supporting initiatives in education, energy, irrigation, water, economic management among other areas.
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