President Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi has cancelled all foreign travels for himself and other members of his government in a move to reduce the cost of governance.
Chakwera disclosed this on national television on Wednesday night, stressing the development was necessary to revive the East African country’s economy.
He also directed that all ministers who are currently in other countries should return home, but he added that the ban on foreign trips will be effective till March 2024.
“Any travel deemed absolutely necessary by anyone during that period must be submitted to my office for my personal authorisation,” Chakwera said.
The Malawian leader also revealed a wide range of austerity measures, including reducing by 50 percent fuel entitlements for cabinet ministers and senior government officials.
There are reports that Chakwera has received backlash over his frequent foreign travel, which must have compelled him to resort to the new move, as he said he would lead by example by curtailing his travel plans.
He also suspended his attendance at the COP28 climate change conference slated for Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates later this month.
As part of the new mechanisms, 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 facing an economic hardship which has led to fuel shortages, inflated food prices, and a shortage of foreign exchange.
Last week, the country’s central bank disclosed that it was devaluing the local currency against the United States dollar by nearly 30 percent.