The president of Malawi has agreed to the $15 million sale of her luxury presidential jet to raise money for the nation’s ailing economy, a government official said on Wednesday.
The presidential jet was originally purchased by Bingu wa Mutharika, Malawi’s late leader, Reuters reports. Mutharika caused the devastation of Malawi’s economy after feuding with donors who accounted for nearly 40 percent of the nation’s budget.
In 2009, Mutharika purchased the presidential jet for $22 million, claiming that the plane indicated his status and was cheaper than flying commercially, Reuters reports. The aircraft allegedly cost Malawi around $300,000 in annual maintenance and insurance. Britain, one of Malawi’s most generous donors, was so critical of the purchase that it reduced its donations to $4.5 million.
Malawi’s former leader passed away in April 2012 after suffering a heart attack and was replaced by current President Joyce Banda. Since taking office, Banda has been working to improve her nation’s economy. The $15 million presidential jet sale was considered a priority in her efforts to repair a long-suffering economy.
Chintu Phiri, principal secretary to the president and cabinet of Malawi, stated that Virgin Islands company Bohnox Enterprise Ltd. had outbid three other suitors, offering $15 million to acquire the 14-passenger Dassault Falcon 900EX. "We have accepted their offer and we are waiting to hear from them," Phiri said, according to Reuters.
Since becoming president, Banda has introduced sweeping changes to Malawi’s spending practices. The 63-year-old has cut her own salary by 30 percent, pledged to sell 35 Mercedes-Benz government cars, and enacted a series of additional austerity measures.
Still, Reuters notes that Banda’s popularity has waned in recent months. An IMF-backed devaluation of Malawi’s kwacha currency has caused inflation to rise to more than 35 percent annually.