Economist Chibamba Kanyama says the recently announced austerity measures to stabilise the country’s economy will not produce the desired results if there is no commitment from government.
In a statement shared with News Diggers! Kanyama noted that the austerity measures that government had come up with would only be achieved if there was a clear road map that clearly outlined what it intends to achieve.
He observed that the risk of government’s failure to commit to the announced measures would compromise public perceptions about its capacity to deliver on its commitments, as evidenced in the past.
“Recently, Minister of Finance, Margaret Mwanakatwe, announced austerity measures to stabilise the economy. [However], there does not appear to be a full agreement on the efficacy of these pronouncements. Public sentiment has quickly dismissed the measures as superficial and impracticable. What should be clear is that the measures are consistent with the advice given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) since 2015. For this reason, I personally believe the measures can be achieved provided there is a clear road map anchored on the following: Firstly, government should clearly define what it intends to achieve. What has been captured by all and sundry are the measures to be instituted without clarity on what the government really wants to achieve,” Kanyama stated.
“The Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) defines clearly what the country’s economic benchmarks are and the Minister has occasionally updated the nation on these benchmarks. The question still remains, what is that one thing we want to achieve so that we redefine the kind of measures applicable towards that one goal? We should first be thinking in terms of the end in mind and not the means. The means may actually be far different from what was announced. Secondly, there is need for full appreciation and communication of what is happening to the economy. I am not fully convinced the leadership is on one page on this issue. It would be a worth exercise for Cabinet to take a day off dissecting and discussing the reality on the ground. Unless you know where you are and accept it, it is difficult to come up with realistic solutions to a problem.”
Kanyama, who is also Bridges Limited Managing Consultant, cautioned that if the willpower to implement the austerity measures was absent, government might as well forget achieving anything.
“The final road map defining the most realistic options should be fully discussed beyond government circles. All critical stakeholders should be brought to the table. We have very able think-tanks and masterminds that can provide amicable solutions. The options may not be very different from what was provided, but the strategy would be applicable, simple and dynamic. We should also determine our preparedness to pay the price to achieve the benchmarks we set for ourselves. We want to hear government officials sing the same song on the issue of austerity. It is presently quite evident the austerity measures did not receive full buy-in by the national leadership. We should feel the vibration of the passion, the hunger to achieve, the unity of purpose and commitment by the leadership to set the tone of fiscal discipline. If willpower for austerity is absent, we may as well forget achieving anything. The risk of failure to commit to the announced measures will compromise public perceptions about the capacity of government to deliver on its commitments,” advised Kanyama.