"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Malawi to maintain growth above 7 pct in 2008-IMF

By Frank Phiri

BLANTYRE, March 23 (Reuters) - Malawi's real economic growth
will remain above seven percent in 2008, boosted by high tobacco
prices, aid inflows and fiscal discipline, the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast on Sunday.

In a statement released at the end of a final review of a
so-called Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), the IMF
said Malawi's economic performance had encouraged it to discuss
a new programme for the southern African country.

"Helped by sound policies, including better management of
public spending, another good harvest, high aid inflows and high
tobacco prices, real GDP growth is estimated to have been almost
eight percent in 2007," IMF resident representative Maitland
McFarlan in a statement.

"And it is estimated to stay above seven percent in 2008."

Malawi's second consecutive surplus harvest of staple grain
maize helped reduce inflation from 15 percent in June 2006 to
eight percent in February 2008, although higher food and fuel
prices are putting upward pressure on commodity prices.

Malawi's annual inflation quickened to 8 percent in
February, from 7.7 percent in January, on the back of rising
commodity prices, according to the National Statistical Office

McFarlan said a new IMF programme under discussion with
Malawi would aim to improve macroeconomic stability, sustain
growth and ease poverty.

"The mission and authorities agreed that it will be
important to further strengthen public financial and economic
management and increase foreign exchange reserves to buttress
Malawi's ability to withstand negative shocks that could
otherwise derail growth and increase poverty," he said.

Discussions on a new programme have advanced and will be
discussed by the IMF's executive board in Washington in June.

The head of the IMF mission, Andrew Berg, said inflation
could be kept under control.

"Inflation is a concern but it is important not to resist it
too much. It is manageable and something to keep an eye on," he
(Editing by Michael Georgy/Rory Channing)

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