US freezes aid to Malawi

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The United States will freeze much of the remaining aid to Malawi for this financial year, in a move that suggests the Office of Management and Budget could cut the funding entirely.

The Trump administration, reports the New York Times, issued an order to the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development to freeze the remaining foreign aid for this year.

The cut cover a broad range of foreign aid including development assistance and global health, areas that directly impact Malawi.

The State Department and the aid agency, commonly known as U.S.A.I.D. has been ordered to give “an accounting” of all “unobligated resources” of foreign aid, meaning funding that has not been officially designated yet for specific purposes.

Malawi is not the only country that has been affected by the decision that has bypassed the US Congress.

Critics of the decision have described the order as “reckless” and in “contempt for congress”.

“This administration’s contempt for Congress is astounding,” Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“When Congress decides how much we spend on foreign assistance, it isn’t a suggestion. It’s the law, backed up by the Constitution” he added.

Liz Schrayer, the chief executive of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a nonprofit group that is an advocate for American diplomacy and counts large companies and nongovernmental organizations as members, said the decision was reckless.

“In a reckless and irresponsible move, O.M.B. appears set on taking a sledgehammer to one of the most minuscule parts of the entire federal budget that would significantly damage America’s security and economic interests — and thwart congressional authority”.

US lawmakers are asking the State Department about the decision with some senior members of the opposition, the Democratic Party, saying the move would set a precedent for future administrations to ignore spending bills and eliminate spending obligations.

In Malawi, USAID support the development, education and health sectors including the fight against TB, HIV and Malaria.

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