Newly elected Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) vice-president Dr Austin Mwange says the new executive will support the government agenda in implementing the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) as its main focus.

And Dr Mwange says the association will remain available to provide policy input in various government policy-formulation processes adding that there was need to continue improving EAZ-government relations.

The EAZ held their most recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) last Friday at the COMESA Secretariat Headquarters where a number of offices for members of the National Executive Committee, including the association’s presidency, were up for grabs and duly filled.

“We have been elected when government has been implementing the Seventh National Development Plan, which is our economic plan, which should also be part of the plans that are leading us to ensuring that we achieve the vision 2030, [which] is to be a prosperous middle income by 2030. So, getting to 2030 we have a number of plans and one of them, which we are following now is the Seventh National Development Plan. So, our focus is to support the government agenda in implementing the 7NDP and ensure that we monitor and evaluate this implementation so that at the end of it, when we move to another plan, which by the time our term of office comes to an end, we would have started preparing for the 8th National Development Plan. But before that, we have to ensure that we participate in ensuring that government succeeds in the implementation of the 7th National Development Plan,” Dr Mwange told News Diggers! in an interview.

He urged all members of the association, especially those in government, to actively participate in the implementation of the 7NDP.

“We urge all our members, those working in government, especially critical ministries like Health, Education and Finance and Commerce, and other supporting departments, to ensure that they participate actively in the implementation of the National Development Plan. And also, we are supportive of government’s approach towards the IMF [International Monetary Fund] because there are a number of studies that have been done on the IMF and the World Bank and how they have participated in economies of developing countries. So, those lessons, which Zambia has had in the past, we have to put in practice. And we also want to ensure that all members take an active role because the Economics Association has members in government. Top government officials are members, all economists at the banks starting with the central bank and the governor support the association and they are members of the association. Ministry of Finance, Commerce, all academic institutions and other independent consultants or economists support us. So, basically, that is the approach [that] we would like to take,” Dr Mwange explained.

“So, where the economy is doing well, where policies are being formulated and being implemented, we have to ensure that they support us. Where there is need to make changes, we can advise and it is up to government [to] see whether there is value in that which has been provided or that advice coming from the Economics Association. EAZ has been playing an important role in defining the economic landscape for Zambia and that role, we, as the newly-elected executive, will continue to play.”

He also called for a fresh, new approach to improve government-EAZ relations.

“And we have to work with all stakeholders because the good performance of the economy or not [so] good performance of the economy affects all Zambians. So, the top men in the driving seat, who are presently the government, we have to work hand in hand, it is not supposed to be an antagonistic approach,” said Dr Mwange.

“We also look forward if economies can have certain approaches they think can help government, you become proactive and provide that advice to government in advance and then they can see how best they can implement them in the driving seat. We need to work together with all stakeholders and in this case we have to ensure that for us to be heard and appreciated, we also have to appreciate some of the efforts that government has done so that even when they don’t do well, when you go there to discuss with them to say, ‘here can we improve,’ they will be able to listen because you also appreciate the works that they have done before. Unlike [when] you just take one-sided approach, which is just to critique and it ends there without providing solutions.”