Consult widely on economic policies, JCTR tells govt

The government should consult widely on policies which are key to economic stability, says Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) acting information officer Bwalya Musoma.

Musoma said that notwithstanding Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda’s assurances in his address to the media recently, the JCTR had concerns over economic management by the PF government.

Musoma observed that the recent upward adjustment of the ceilings on both foreign and domestic borrowing levels was inconsistent with the minister’s pronouncement.

“While the minister assured the nation of government’s commitment to ensuring fiscal discipline and debt management to prevent further borrowing beyond sustainable levels, the recent upward adjustment of the ceilings on both foreign and domestic borrowing levels is inconsistent with his earlier pronouncement,” said Musoma.

She said that it was important that the government was viewed to be consistent in both word and deed when it came to economic policies in order to maintain high levels of confidence in the economy.

She said the role of policy consistency in economic stability could not be overemphasised, as inconsistency sent wrong signals to various economic agents whose response could destabilize the economy. Musoma said that in as much as the government through the Minister of Finance gave a briefing on the state of the economy particularly with regards to the sharp depreciation of the Kwacha against major international currencies, the fiscal policy to ensure adherence to deficit levels of 3 per cent of GDP and the upward adjustments of debt ceilings through parliament seemed contradictory. She said that despite government revoking statutory instruments 33 and 55 as part of the measures to stabilise the Kwacha against major currencies, much of the damage has already been done to the Kwacha which had increased the cost of living to most households, especially the poor.

“We therefore urge the government to embrace consultation on key economic policies. If wide consultation had been done before the introduction of SI 33 and SI 55, the current confusion of revocation and then consultation afterwards would have been avoided,” she said.

Musoma said that the government must engage in social dialogue with various stakeholders to ensure that interests of all, especially the poor, were fully considered in key economic policy decisions.