The National Planning Commission (NPC), a body that will be formulating long-term national vision and strategy for socio-economic development, says it will hasten in identifying quick win projects to generate momentum and confidence to the country’s economy.
NPC chairperson Richard Mkandawire, a socio-economist and rural development expert, said in an interview on Wednesday that Malawi has the human capital and untapped natural resources that have the potential to boost socio-economic development and change the narrative for the country as one of the poorest in the world.
He said NPC wants to change the mindset of Malawians by joining efforts with the like-minded partners in scaling up many but often isolated and scared success stories.
Said Mkandawire: ”One just needs to look at the period soon after independence and the mid-to late 2000s to appreciate that it is possible to be among the continental lion economies on the move.
“The country should get inspiration even from the isolated micro innovations that hold promise in the richness of our human capacity to innovate and to rise above the tide of negative labels of poverty that have been thrust on us.”
He said as the country moves to roll out Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III), it will also be critical that government listens to experts on what needs to be improved based on evidence.
“By having the commission in place, government has shown a strong belief in having a team of experts as a resounding board and think-tank for the country’s development plans.
“What is critical, however, is to ensure that every citizen in the country begins to own the national development agenda. We need a new national narrative that is embraced by all citizens. Malawi should refuse to be pursuing the “road to Haiti” or to “Somalia”, Malawi should commit itself to pursuing pathways to Singapore, South Korea and other successful model countries,” he said.
Haiti and Somalia are some of the countries in the bottom 10 in the world while Singapore and South Korea are some of the Asian Tigers whose economies are registering phenomenal growth rates.
Mkandawire said Malawi’s development policies are inconsistent.
Catholic University economics lecturer Gilbert Kachamba said beside Vision 2020, the country failed to define a long-term nationally-shared vision with clearly articulated practical milestones.
“Development initiatives have been seen in the past largely as personal development “fads” of each leader that has come into government. Not surprisingly, therefore, even promising national development initiatives that have been generated through credible planning processes have been abandoned on account of being associated with each successive leadership,” he said.
Kachamba advised the commission, as an independent institution, to develop evidence-based input into policy planning processes that have long-term economic and social impact.
The Government of Malawi established NPC by an Act of Parliament of 2017 to oversee the implementation of long-term national vision and strategies and medium term development plans.
It will also spearhead the formulation of innovative and progressive flagship projects in line with the national vision.