Stakeholders seek Malawi’s debt cancelation

Stakeholders at the 2024 Malawi Debt Conference have called on the executive to discontinue the practice of borrowing commercially with non-concessionary loans, which carry high interest rates and lead to an unsustainable debt burden.

This call comes as Malawi’s debt stood at 12.56 trillion kwacha as of December 2023.

Phiri: We have issued to address.

In an interview with MIJ Online, Bertha Phiri, Executive Director of the Malawi Economics Justice Network, praised the government for lobbying for debt restructuring but stressed the need for fiscal discipline.

Phiri added that the network will continue to advocate for debt cancellation and responsible borrowing practices by the government.

“We have come to agree that there is a strong interlinkage between debt and gender. The more we accumulate debt, the more we are suffocating the women, boys, young girls, and men. The more we are congesting the social sector investments.” Said Phiri.

Kwataine: The feedbacks is impressive.

Meanwhile, Martha Kwaitane, presidential advisor on non-governmental organizations, said the government appreciates the role that civil society plays in providing alternative perspectives on debt restructuring.

During the conference, delegates agreed that Malawi should aim to increase its tax-to-GDP ratio from 13% to 20% to better meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This includes reviewing and renegotiating the Double Taxation Agreement to prevent tax evasion and ensure fair taxation, increasing the VAT collection rate to 20% by improving compliance and broadening the tax base, implementing taxation on online employment and digital services to capture revenue from the growing digital economy, and enhancing tax administration and laws by investing in modern technology, training tax officials, and simplifying tax procedures to improve efficiency and compliance.

Some of the delegates.

Delegates from diverse sectors, including CSOs, activists, researchers, media, CBOs, women-led organizations, academia, national movements, labor unions, faith-based organizations, youth organizations, economic and tax justice advocates, human rights networks, and public institutions, gathered at Crossroads Hotel in Lilongwe, Malawi, from July 3-4, 2024, for the Second All-Inclusive Annual Conference on Debt and Management.

The conference, themed ‘Dealing with Malawi’s Debt Burden from the Gender Lens,’ focused on addressing the country’s debt issues with a particular emphasis on gender perspectives.

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