Mon, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000
It is very good news.
It has confounded critics and proverbial nay Sayers alike.
The recognition of the Kwacha as one of the best performing currency in Africa, is very good news because it represents dogged and determined fiscal and monetary effort.
Indeed the recognition by Bloomberg, is the recognition of the resolute and focussed economic direction that Government has taken to control and manage economic fundamentals.
Coming, as it does in the short run, it creates morale and impetus for Government to endeavour into greater economic management to harness and manage the economy towards recovery, sustenance and indeed expansion.
That it is not a fluke but a result of a well-managed exercise that combines political will and financial discipline is confirmed by the resilience and strength of the Kwacha which has remained within a very narrow band devoid of the violent fluctuation witnessed at the height of the commodity rout.
According to the Bloomberg News Agency, Zambia’s currency, the kwacha, is the world’s best-performing currency of 2016.
It says that its value against the United States dollar has risen 19.9% since the beginning of January 2016, thereby outstripping the increase in the price of gold.
This comes off the back of the kwacha being labelled one of the worst-performing currencies of last year. That, of course, was precipitated by a fall in the Copper prices, one of the Zambia’s main exports, as well as a power shortage.
The recovery of the Kwacha can largely be attributed to the introduction of sound fiscal policies that the Bank of Zambia introduced to stabilise the Kwacha amid the falling Copper prices on the London Metal Exchange.
Captains of commerce and Industry have every reason to trust treasury and Central Bank fiscal and monetary prescriptions as evidenced by the confidence shown by such reputable financial analysts as Bloomberg.
Most importantly however, Zambians must take heart and appreciate that their effort and sacrifice is not in vain because it forms the basis of economic consolidation that will usher a new economic era.
There are many other indicators that the economy is on the recovery path. The fall in the inflation rate from a record high of 22.9 percent at the beginning of 2016 to 7.5 percent as announced by the Central Statistics Office in the last week of December, 2016 is a good sign that 2017 holds better prospects for the country.
Indications that Zambia’s economy poised for growth in 2017 by surpassing the 3.4 percent GDP projected for 2016 is not illusory but a result of hard realities.
The approval of the 2017 national budget in the first session of the twelfth national assembly cements the high prospects of Zambia’s economy becoming stronger this year in that it outlines the parameters of Government expenditure and sources of income.
A close analysis of the 2017 national budget outlines pragmatic recovery mechanisms such as reduction of external borrowing, streamlining Government funding on infrastructure development to only economically and viable projects.
For instance, not all roads need construction at the same scale as those which are of direct economic value to national development.
Be that as it may, a good national budget does not automatically translate into economic recovery. Without due implementation of the measures put across, it amounts to nothing worthwhile.
In view of the said measures, we think that there is no need to commit Government to contracting external loans to finance various Government project. Instead, all that needs to be done is equip strategic public institutions like the Zambia Revenue Authority with necessary man power and skills to maximise on revenue collections.
We hold the view that Government has a solid base on which to roll out its ambitious programme to diversify the economy and accelerate job creation among the youth.
Attraction of foreign investment into the manufacturing industry such as the launch of US$179 million car assembly plant at the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone by the Minister of Commerce Trade and Industry gives an assurance that there is indeed light at the end of the 2017 tunnel.
Government efforts must serve as a cue for greater national impetus in which all citizens in whatever level of participation will be equally determined in their expectation to excel.