Amidst the spectre of hunger afflicting over 1.6million of our citizens, recurring shortages of fuel and forex, we as a nation can afford a smile at the news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved US$20 million as part of the Extended Credit Facility. This means government will be able to meet its immediate obligations spelt out in the national budget.
It is well-known that, as a poor nation, monetary support is crucial for our government to provide social services. This is normal because we must start from somewhere to balance our budgets which require external funding of about 40 percent .History is replete with cases of nations which have also gone through this begging and borrowing to support their budgets.
However, we seem to be doing little to wean ourselves from this dependence syndrome. We have excuses for this unfortunate failure which hinge on lack of proper capital to build our own production-oriented industries to help reduce levels of imports in the country.
We are a resource rich nation given the fertile agricultural lands and the minerals being discovered every year. We also boast of a youthful and energetic population. These are factors which give us an enviable comparative advantage to face the world with confidence.
However, we fail to prioritise things right. We are preoccupied with for short-term investments take, one of which is our obsession with maize. We produce maize that feeds the nation for only a year and when the rains fail in some parts of the country like it happened last season, we are hungry. The question is: Are we serious as a nation to go for consumption oriented investments and spend huge sums of money?
The sad thing so far is that we have already accumulated external debts of over US$1 billion, and this is only after few years when all our external debt of about US$ 3billion was cancelled. These were loans got for a period of 40 years but within a short time we have hit a US$1billion debt mark. This means in a few years the vicious circle of indebtedness will choke us again.
We should change our strategies by having correct national priorities. We need to revolve from being an importing nation to one that exports and generates its own forex.