The 2017 Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) Annual Conference has opened in Mangochi with call by Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) deputy governor Grant Kabango for authorities to plan for inclusive and transformative growth.
“Economic growth is said to be inclusive when the growth creates opportunities for all segments of the population and the benefits of increased prosperity in both monetary and non-monetary terms are fairly distributed,” he said at the opening of the two-day conference under the theme Rethinking the Pillars and Structures for Malawi’s Transformative Economic Development.
He said inclusive and transformative growth seeks to level the playing field for all economic agents and increase productive employment opportunities.
Kabango observed that the conference theme is timely and appropriate for what the country is going through.
“The economy is just coming out of a rough patch that has lasted for five years from 2012 to 2016. Inflation had spiraled out of control reaching a high of 37.9 percent in 2013, the kwacha was relentlessly weakening against currencies of the country’s trading partners and in some instances defying fundamentals after initially being devalued by 50 percent in May 2012,” he said.
At the same time, gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed down to an average of 3.6 percent from an average of 7.0 percent between 2006 and 2011.
But Kabango said picture has dramatically improved in 2017 as inflation has come down as of September 2017 to 8.4 percent from an average of 23.4 percent registered between 2012 and 2016 reflective of a tight monetary policy stance that was pursued by monetary authorities during the last five years and a bumper harvest in 2016/2017.
In his opening remarks, Ecama president Henry Kachaje said as economists they can bear witness that economic growth has not been on a steady path.
He said: “Is there something as economists we could advise better or something that we are missing or economic fundamentals are challenging our economic growth.
“Are we still on the rhetoric mode or we are getting into practice.”
Over the years, Ecama has been meeting, but Kachaje said it seems most of the recommendations made have not helped the economy to be on a sustainable path.