Malawi’s President, Lazarus Chakwera, has suspended all foreign trips by government officials, including himself, citing the country’s economic crisis.

In a nationwide broadcast on Wednesday night, the President said the move, was part of what he called tough measures to heal the Southern African nation’s economy.

Chakwera also directed all ministers who are currently outside the country to return home and said the suspension will be in place until March next year.

“All cabinet members currently abroad on public-funded international trips must return to Malawi with immediate effect,” he said.

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Amid backlash received over his frequent foreign travel, the President said he would lead by example by curtailing his travel plans, including cancelling his attendance at the COP28 climate change conference in Dubai later this month.

He also directed that fuel allocation for ministers, principal secretaries, directors, and all senior officers who are entitled, should be cut by half, adding that the practice of spending taxpayers’ money on useless activities in the form of allowances should be put to an end.

The Malawi leader said all the spending cuts will be channeled towards procurement of food and fertilizer to ensure the country has enough food.

He has also directed the minister of finance to include in the upcoming mid-year budget review provisions for cushioning small to medium enterprises to protect the jobs they create, provisions for a reasonable wage increase for civil servants and review Pay as You Earn tax to remove tax burden from civil servants.

Similarly, ordered ministers of finance and trade to work with the Competition and Fair-Trading Commission to investigate price increases and hold into account all those involved in raising prices in violation of the law.

Chakwera also announced that he has ordered the secretary to the President and Cabinet to ensure the recent hiking of the price of water is absorbed by the operating cost of those boards for now, and not placed on Malawians.

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