Jumbe challenges Lipenga on Malawi’s recovery performance

Malawi’s former finance minister Friday Jumbe is challenging President Joyce Banda’s administration to highlight the economic achievement it claims has been registered after the introduction of the much-touted Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).

Jumbe, who is also the president of the newly formed New Labour Party, was reacting to a statement from Finance Minister Ken Lipenga that the recovery plan has started yielding fruits.

According to Lipenga, partial recovery of the economy will be achieved by November this year, 18 months after the devaluation of the kwacha.

Lipenga said in a statement published in newspapers on Wednesday that monetary expansion has started slowing down from an average of 35 percent during the twelve-month period to April 2012 to now 18 percent at end-November, a development he hopes could enable the Reserve Bank to ease monetary policy and starting bringing down lending rates.

Jumbe: Give practical examples

But Jumbe told a local radio, Capital FM, that the government needs to furnish Malawians with practical examples of the achievements made.

He said this can be done by bringing a clear breakdown of the achievement that could be appreciated by the Malawians.

“If the minister of finance feels that the program has started yielding fruits people want to know where the fruits are coming from so that they can start believing that everything will be fine,” said Jumbe.

President Banda’s administration launched the ERP as a blue print that seeks to solve economic challenges facing the country. The government had earlier asked to be given18 months to bring back on track the economy.

Lipenga cites improved foreign exchange and fuel availability as well as resumption of donor support as some of the achievements realised as a result of the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP).

“Full recovery will take some time given the enormity of economic mismanagement of the past few years,” said Lipenga, adding: “In the meantime, the government is doing all it can to mitigate some of the adverse impacts on the welfare of the most vulnerable households.”

However, human rights activist Billy Mayaya also said Lipenga’s statement on achievement s of the recovery plans is “misleading.”

“There is express mention of the IMF and donors and everybody knows a large portion of these resources are loans which is adding to Malawi’s accumulation of new debt. That’s’ not Economic Recovery that’s entrenching underdevelopment. Stop whitewashing the problem,” noted Mayaya.

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