Mutati dispels IMF ‘myths and fears of yester year’


THE fears and myths over the operations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are long gone because the current system does not dictate to the country what it should do but we make decisions based on our capabilities, Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) president Felix Mutati has said.

Speaking after a meeting with stakeholders at his office yesterday ahead of the pending trip of the IMF to Zambia, Mr. Mutati said there was no need for the country to worry that Zambia was drifting back to the era of structural adjustment programme (SAP) because the IMF would not dictate on what it wants done in Zambia but that the country will make a decision based on its capabilities.

He said the IMF did not impose its decisions on countries but consults and listens to the economic plans of each country and share views and reflections and allows the country to make a decision according to what is achievable under conditions prevailing in the country.

“We met this afternoon with a group of NGOs and the civil society on poverty reduction and the engagement was to consult on the impending trip of the IMF and share views and reflections.

‘‘One of the things that are extremely clear is that there is a myth and fear of what IMF can do to the economy but the IMF of today has substantially got a human face in that when they come to the country, they come to consult and listen and to examine the economic plan that the country puts through.

“The responsibility and accountability of implementing the plan remains centrally ours and so there should not be any fear that Zambia is in any way returning to the era of structural adjustment programme.

‘‘The IMF principally looks for three things: whether you have space to borrow, whether you have the ability to return, and whether you have an economic plan that you have constructed that demonstrates the ability; and this is where the intellectual and technical engagement of Zambians basically comes in,” Mr. Mutati said.

He said the country’s economic plan should address, among other issues, the infrastructure development, which is priority in terms of sequencing, how the country intended to address issues of subsidies like petroleum and electricity and how it planned to deal with the reforms in the agriculture sector.

“You also address yourselves in terms of what is called fiscal consolidation and the reduction of Government expenditure. You will also address revenue slippages; how you are going to bear the cost. This is the plan that is going to be tabled to the IMF and say Zambia feels going forward, these are the elements of our plan in the next five years and more importantly, the issue surrounding poverty reduction.

“It is our plan, it is our baby and when that plan fails we should not point externally; it will be us because we constructed it, it is not the IMF. The IMF of yester years, which used to make plans for us, is gone because we now have the intellectual and technical tools to do the job ourselves and engage and plan on a punch-for-punch basis. So let them come, we should be ready to take them on,” he said.