NDS 1 needs refinement: Experts

BY KENNETH MATIMAIRE

GOVERNMENT’S newly crafted econo-mic blueprint, the National Development Strategy (NDS) 1, has shortcomings and needs to be revised with more emphasis on social indicators so as to improve the social welfare of citizens who have endured decades of economic hardships.

Finance minister Mthuli Ncube acknowledged the challenges with the economic blueprint — Transitional Stabilisation Programme (TSP), the predecessor to the NDS 1 widely blamed for immiserating an already poor populace. The TSP focused more on gross domestic product (GDP) growth, budget surplus, inflation and currency stabilisation.

Economic experts argue that while the government met its economic targets, very little or no tangible benefits were realised by ordinary people.

The Labour and Economic Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) has been very critical of the TSP, particularly over its “failure to put on a human face”.

LEDRIZ said there was a need to prioritise key social indicators that include unemployment rate, crime rate, life expectancy, gender equality, health status index and education.

In an interview last week Ncube said: “There is a need for more social indicators, which we are tracking. We do have our recent report on progress regarding implementation of NDS1 looking at the social aspect.”

Ncube said the report would be made public, marking the first time the new dispensation has come out openly on the matter.

He stated that the report featured various social indicators such as child mortality, access to health by women and to clean water, among others, in a bid to track the effectiveness of economic reforms and policies.

“The report will look at social indicators around child mortality, access to health by women and access to clean water. We have all those indicators there and we have targets year by year and quarter by quarter,” the finance minister said.

“So, it’s a very important report. In every quarter we are tracking those indicators and I think it’s the first time we have come out openly about it.”

The Finance ministry through its permanent secretary, George Guvamatanga, has, however, previously attempted to address the matter.

Guvamatanga is on record saying the TSP, which bore fruit, including the budget surplus, benefited ordinary citizens as the funds were used to subsidise Zupco bus fares and for road construction.

Ncube said it was imperative to note that inflation and GDP growth, which were among the key targets of the TSP, were not only economic, but were also social indicators.

“Inflation can be harsh, so it’s a very important indicator. In fact, inflation is a serious social indicator. So, does GDP growth because it summarises the direction in which the economy is heading. So those are important indicators, I urge you not to dismiss them,” he said.