Malawi 'told to sell off grain reserves' by IMF

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The Independent Online

The World Food Programme has demanded an inquiry into the role played by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Malawi's decision to sell off its strategic grain reserves.

The government sold off 167,000 tons of grain shortly before the region was hit by drought, officials from the World Food Programme told the BBC yesterday.

Out of 14 million people in need of emergency food aid in southern Africa, more than three million are in Malawi. The IMF denies a claim by the President of Malawi, Bakili Muluzi, that it advised the government to sell the reserves and use the money to repay the country's debts.

Money from the sales has not been accounted for. President Muluzi denies accusations of corruption, although he fired his agriculture minister who received large quantities of the maize from reserves.

For short-term needs of the hungry Mr Muluzi has accepted genetically modified corn without conditions.