Malawi’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe on Wednesday lashed out at critics of government’s Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), arguing the much-talked about 18 months time frame “does not feature anywhere in the document and sounds no logic”.
Gondwe said this at a news conference at Capital Hill in Lilongwe, apparently reacting to recent comments by economic commentators who doubted during a public debate organised by the Economics Association of Malawi (Ecama) last Friday that it is unrealistic that the economy will recover in 18 months, beginning April last year.
Said Gondwe: “What came close to 18 months is a statement made by Her Excellency the President [Joyce Banda] in Brussels that some of the results of the ERP could commence in 18 months.
“Expecting benefits to commence within 18 months is not the same as saying that the ERP will be implemented within 18 months.”
During the Friday debate, managing director for Business Consult Africa Henry Kachaje wondered why Malawi should be too optimistic to recover the economy within 18 months when it has taken longer for countries such as Greece which he said have received huge bailouts for three years, but “have not begun to think that things [have] started to change”.
But Gondwe emphasised that elements of the ERP will be implemented in two to five years and dubbed the 18 months time frame as a ‘gross misunderstanding.’
He said some benefits to the economy are expected to be accrued within a year and others are expected to be yielded in the long and medium terms.
But the official Malawi News Agency’s Mana Online edition on January 11 2013 quoted the President as saying 2013 is the year of hope when the economy will recover.
Said Banda at a recent dinner she hosted for the Global Leaders Council (GLC) for reproductive health at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe: “I am looking forward to the year of 2013 as the year of hope. We are going into the future with hope. It is not going to be easy; but, we will make it.
“I am pleased to say that Malawians gave me the benefit of the doubt when I came into office and said the economy would take about 18 months to recover. We want to eradicate poverty through creation of wealth and jobs; that’s why this year we will be counting how many jobs are being created monthly and at the end of the year we will consolidate how many jobs we will have created.”