Persistent high inflation is a serious “crime against humanity” that an insensitive and uncaring government can inflict on its own people. When inflation remains stubbornly high over a long period, even those that are financially prudent and save money diligently become victims of a “bureaucratic robbery”.
Inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising and, consequently, the purchasing power of currency is falling. Inflation means a sustained increase in the aggregate or general price level in an economy and an increase in the cost of living.Simply put, “inflation means that your money won’t buy as much today as it could yesterday.”
Let’s say that with K1,000 in January 2015, you could buy five loaves of bread. But come January 2016, the same K1,000 can buys you just three loaves of bread; this means you have been “robbed” of the purchasing power to buy two extra loaves of bread. You might have saved K100,000 in January 2015, but with inflation at almost 25%, the real value of your money after a while is just K75,000. Inflation has robbed you of K25,000. This is how cruel and evil inflation is. This is why a caring government must always strive to keep inflation as low as possible. If it doesn’t, then such a government is actually “robbing” its citizens.
But what drives inflation in Malawi? Government over-expenditure, borrowing for consumption and the rising cost of food, especially maize. These are classified as food and non-food inflation. To control inflation, government must desist from spending money it does not have. Can this be done? Is it possible? YES, it can be done.
First of all, as citizens, we must DEMAND that our government only spends on us what we have contributed to the national purse through our taxes and other revenues. It is unpatriotic of us as citizens to expect government to spend on us money we didn’t give it.
There are burdens that government is carrying that should otherwise be on our shoulders as individual citizens. Feeding my children porridge for example is my responsibility not government’s. But providing primary education to my children should be the responsibility of government. Building my own house should be my responsibility. But building a classroom block for my kids should be the responsibility of government.
Unfortunately, with our misunderstood democracy, many of us have obligated our individual responsibilities to government. This gives pressure on government to keep borrowing to provide to the citizens services that cannot be accommodated in the revenue purse. Consequently, government keeps “robbing” us through high inflation. In the end, we are the big losers when government, under pressure to please us, keeps borrowing to do for us what we should have done ourselves.
To bring down inflation therefore, we the citizens must demand that our government should only spend on us what we have given it through taxes and other non-tax revenues. This will require sacrifice on our part and we need to tame our appetite for freebies. Government must only be allowed to borrow for infrastructure developments that have the capacity to facilitate economic growth.