Opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) President Edith Nawakwi has warned the UPND led Government against relying heavily on the pending International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package for the local economy recovery.
Ms. Nawakwi said the IMF package the Government is waiting for is not coming now and won’t improve the economic welfare of individual Zambians.
The economist and former Finance Minister in the MMD regime challenged the New Dawn government to come up with a plan that will improve the economy of citizens.
Featuring on Camnet TV’s National Matter, Ms. Nawakwi said many Zambians are going through financial distress.
“As a country we must accept that we are in the taffy and it appears to me that everybody is waiting for the IMF bailout. The country is heavily indebted. We are now in the poverty basket and I think for the past couple of months we are waiting for the IMF to come in and bail us out and when you are in that situation as a nation, I think we are ignoring some very very critical issues that are happening in families, in homes and those are issues of mental health arising from financial distress. You see that small businesses have folded, people are really stressed. They may not be protesting but you can see that they are hurting. When you ask the question as to how we are fairing, I think we are fairing very very badly and we need to accept that we have a problem and how are we going to resolve it,” Ms. Nawakwi said.
“I have been listening to many pundits discussing and it looks like the discussion is centred on the IMF bailout. As a country, I have not heard much from the public sector, from the government giving us an alternative, what if the IMF does not arrive with this famous package? What is going to happen to our country? What are we going to do? And these are serious questions and when you walk on the street people are hungry, people are really desperate to survive. You begin to think, to see traits of actual distress which can cause very bad injuries to people and the country as a whole,” she said.
Ms. Nawakwi continued:”You cannot have a country which puts all the eggs in one basket. I think for the entire eleven months of our colleagues being in office, we haven’t heard of an alternative development paradigm. Let me put it simply, a Zambian marshall plan. It is as though the IMP package is the saviour and everything that is required. That is not the case. The International Monetary Fund if we ever get that package, the way the numbers are going I can say with certainty that it is not coming in a few months, maybe in another two or three years because if you look at domestic debt, it is going in a different direction.”
“If you look at this, all the figures according to what I know. Having worked with the IMF I can say the famous package may not be walking in the next few months. I heard our President say that watch me by June (2022), read my lips and I am yet to read anything but the question that we need to ask ourselves as a nation. This package is meant for debt relief so that we pay our creditors. What is our programme that we Zambians have in place for my mother in Chinyinji, for my mother in Chama to put food on the table? That is the programme I am looking for from the Government and the Zambians. That is the programme that we Zambians need to sit and discuss a local martial plan. To get ourselves out of individual economic quagmire and get our nation out of abject poverty,” she said.
Ms. Nawakwi further observed:”Let us all agree and there is no debate about whether the Bretton Woods Institute was meant for bailing out international creditors. The IMF is not going to build a school. The IMF is not going to give us money for Agriculture or for fish ponds. Far from it, so, if you have a Minister of Finance whose only plan is based on’ well I am waiting for the package from Washington’. Then we are in trouble and I think that we need this open debate to discuss what the alternative measures as a nation should put in place since the IMF package is a farfetched idea. Even if it came it would not improve the economic welfare of someone in Misisi, or my relatives in Kalikiliki.”