The official rate of Malawi's currency has been cut by a third as the impoverished southern African nation seeks to repair ties with the International Monetary Fund, the country's central banker said today. The move is just one in a series of steps President Joyce Banda's government has taken that sharply distinguish her administration from that of her predecessor, who died in office last month and who had eschewed the IMF's advice to devalue the kwacha.
"The devaluation of the kwacha and the liberalization of the foreign exchange market are expected to continue government's efforts to reach ... agreement with the IMF," the central bank chief said at a press conference in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe. "The currency adjustment is further expected to have the effect of reducing demand for imports of consumer goods in favor of domestically produced goods." Malawi's Chamber of Commerce chief said businesses had expected a devaluation and had already factored it into their prices. (Read more Bingu wa Mutharika stories.)