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About Economic advice to govt: the good, the bad and the ugly

Filed under: Special Comments |
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By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. When you talk about economic advice to Government, there are two key variables to consider; competence and objectivity. In Zambia, most individuals and institutions who comment on the economy do not know what they are talking about. If you are incompetent, then it does not matter whether you are objective or not, you are simply not useful.

2. On the other hand, among the few institutions and individuals that know what they are talking about as far as the economy is concerned, even fewer are objective and have the backbone to speak truth to power. The majority of individuals and institutions, despite having the technical competence, will either massage their advice too much, in an effort to be politically correct to Govt, or they’ll simply agree with retrogressive Government policy for fear of offending Govt.

3. However, one of the few institutions which, over the years has had both the competence and objectivity to advise Government on economic matters, is the Zambia Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR). Under different Executive Directors starting from the MMD Government to the PF and now the UPND, ZIPAR has consistently and continuously offered solid economic advice which successive Governments have ignored at their own peril.

4. The funny thing is that this institution is partially owned by the Ministry of Finance. But despite being affiliated to Government, it has remained astonishingly competent and objective. And successive Governments have remained astonishingly consistent in ignoring its advice on different economic matters.

5. My advice to President Hakainde Hichilema is that when you are done listening to all the noise from different individuals and institutions regarding the economy, take some time to listen to what ZIPAR has to say on a particular economic matter. Trust me, you won’t go wrong.

SET 15.02.2023

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