Economists warn govt on development strategy

Economists have warned government that while the third Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) appears to be a well thought-out development strategy, more efforts should be invested in its implementation.

Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) and Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) expressed the sentiments in their reaction to President Peter Mutharika’s unveiling of MGDS III at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe yesterday.

Mutharika displays the MGDS III document to the audience

In an interview with The Nation, Ecama president Chikumbutso Kalilombe said for Malawi to truly move out of its status as one of the poorest countries in the world, the economy needs to attain a sustained growth rate of seven percent.

During his speech, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe said Malawi needs to achieve an average growth rate of five percent during the next five years to get out of the list of poor countries.

But Kalilombe said the country needs to manage the volatility of the macro-economic environment because, as it is, there is a lot of back and forth movements of the economic growth, which makes growth not sustainable.

He said: “Macro-economic fundamentals are mostly affected by weather; let’s get over that! That cannot sustain us, because we just go back and forth.

“If we control the economic fundamentals, we should know that even if two years went by without rain, we should be able to control the price of food. We are in agreement with what he [the President] is hoping for but the thing is in the implementation.”

On his part, Mejn executive director Dalitso Kubalasa said MGDS III has the potential to be successfully implemented based on a number of factors which were missing in previous development strategies government had.

However, he stressed that the onus is on Malawi as a country to implement what it has outlined.

Said Kubalasa: “It is always possible to achieve what the Finance minister is saying, but the choice is up to us as a country. That’s where most of the times we miss it.

“The issue could be; are we drawing lessons from the previous papers, especially MGDS II, whose results were very embarrassing and we missed all the assumptions and then we continued doing business as usual…”

He said the elements which give hope in the current set up are like the presence of an independent commission that has been mandated to oversee the implementation of the strategy and the implementing period of five years—which overlaps the current government term of five years.

Kubalasa also observed that the setting up of the national planning commission passed through Parliament and even the commissioners appointment had to get the nod of Parliament.

The chairperson of the planning commission Richard Mkandawire, said the document identifies priority areas which will enable government and development partners to focus their efforts on uninterrupted development for Malawi.

Launching the MGDS III, the President asked Malawians to change the development thought process if the country is to move out of poverty.

He said Malawi is no different from the developed countries, given the fact that t is endowed with resources that can ably facilitate economic transformation.

Mutharika described the MGDS III as an opportunity for the country to implement the thoughts and wishes of its people on development.

He urged the country’s youth and everyone to increasingly become more active in economic development activities.

The MGDS III is coming after several other development strategies were launched such as the MGDS I and II, the Vision 2020 and Malawi Poverty Reduction and Development Strategy.

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