President Peter Mutharika and officials in his administration regularly claim that Malawi’s economy is ticking over nicely. This is far from the truth, writes our Reporter, Bright Malenga
MALAWIANS need to be told the truth about the country’s economic position, if we all wish to see our country progressing.
Recently, the International Monetary Fund, IMF, released its by-yearly report, in which it has ranked Malawi as the third poorest in the world.
This is a position normally associated with nations that are at war or are recovering from natural calamities.
In a real sense, countries such as South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia, can justify that war and social unrest facilitated their poverty.
We are not afflicted with any of these problems. Yet, we remain among such basket cases.
So, why are in this position? Why and where, are we missing the target?
Contrary to the IMF ranking, our government has been saying that our economy is on-track, citing the reduction of the rate of inflation as being at single digit.
For instance, during the recent opening of the Malawi Investment Forum, President Peter Mutharika said that the economy was in good shape.
”Some people say Malawi’s economy is a miracle, “ he said. “Four years ago, this country was almost bankrupt. Our deficit was almost equal to our annual national budget. Our inflation was at 24 per cent. We have brought inflation down to the single digit. Today, inflation is at 9.7 percent, as of April this year,” he declared.
Such claims are akin to creating what the US President, Donald Trump describes as “fake news.”
If what our leaders are claiming is not true, then should we not also be describing their claims as promoting a fake image?
They claim that the country is economically on track. In reality however, Malawians have to tighten their belts every day to close the space where not enough food is getting into their stomachs.
People are suffering, especially in the rural areas. They are failing to access basic needs on a daily basis.
The question that many are therefore asking is: why are the costs of goods and services continuing to rise yet our leaders are claiming something different?
What the President and his administration are claiming, is not matching with the reality that is on the ground.
The position that the IMF says we are in: as the third poorest country in the world, is a wakeup call for our government to be realistic.
For example, we cannot keep claiming to be economically stable yet our Balance of Payment, BOP, always registers a deficit.
The government needs to stop encouraging the importation of goods that we could be producing locally.
Right now, Malawi is still importing vegetables, milk and fruit that we could be producing locally.
Our farmers and households in rural areas could be the richer, only if the government funded local farmers and assisted them with how to produce and package local food products.
The manufacturing sector too, could be producing foodstuff and exporting value-added products on consumables such as cereals, juices and other products.
In the process, our country could be generating jobs and skills for thousands of youth who, because of abject poverty, are forced to trek illegally to countries such as Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania and South Africa in their desperate search for jobs.
The President should set an example to his senior officials by adopting measures that would save the limited foreign currency that we have.
Cutting back on expensive, luxury cars for him, cabinet ministers and senior government officials would be a good example.
What do others think? What is the response of our Government? We at The Express would be happy to publish the views of others – including those who might disagree with this opinion.
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