BLANTYRE–-Britain will give its former colony Malawi an additional aid package of 24 million pounds for its economic recovery programme, a British official visiting Malawi said Tuesday, bringing the total aid so far to 58 million pounds this year.
Britain in April provided £30 million (38 million Euros, $47 million) to help the southern African nation manage the effects of devaluation of its
Henry Bellingham, United Kingdom’s parliamentary under secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told reporters the additional funds would be used for the health sector and a popular farm subsidy programme which benefits thousands of villagers with inputs such as fertiliser to shore up maize production, the staple here.
Bellingham said Britain wants Malawi, which gets 40 percent of its budget cash from donors, “migrate from aid dependency to trade.
“Currently, our two way trade is worth £58.5 million per annum and the balance of trade is in Malawi’s favour. My ambition is to see that figure doubled, with Malawi gaining more through trade than aid,” he said.
He said he wants to see British firms invest in the former colony, “training people and transferring skills, expertise and technology.”
Pres Joyce Banda said the package had come at “our point of greatest need when we took the bold step of devaluing the kwacha.”
She hailed Britain for being the first country “to offer us help.”
British Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell was the first British top official to visit Malawi in May, in a first major to rehabilitate Malawi’s battered image after its former and the late president Bingu wa Mutharika pursued increasingly hard line policies.
Mitchell’s visit followed a diplomatic spat last year during the tenure of Mutharika when relations between the two countries grew strained when WikiLeaks published a diplomatic cable of the British ambassador accusing the president of "becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism".
Mutharika, in his last term as president two years before new elections, died in April from a heart attack and was succeeded by Banda.
At the time of the spat, Malawi expelled the British ambassador and London
retaliated by ejecting Malawi's envoy.
Britain was one of the countries that suspended aid to Malawi, citing
concerns about Mutharika.
Since taking office, Banda, the country's first female president, has restored relations with donor nations.
The UK, through the Department for International Development (DFID) provides about £80 million support to Malawi each year to help implement the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS), the country's development blueprint.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment