"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Malawi economic analysts blame legislatures for poor economic freedom report

DESPITE government’s efforts to boost the economic
image of the country to global investors, a US based think tank
Heritage Foundation says economic freedom in Malawi remains poor.

But some local economic analysts, including the report, blame
parliament for the development saying legislatures have failed to pass
economic bills that would have made Malawi more competitive on the
international trade arena.

The foundation report, quoted in the August country report for Malawi
by the London based Economist Intelligence Unit, says the country is
ranked 120 out of 157 countries.

The overall economic freedom score for Malawi is 53.8 percent and is
scored 52.1 percent in the freedom to do business and is ranked poorly.

“However, by far the worst category for the country was freedom from
corruption, which scored a poor 27 percent,” reads the report in part.

But the report scores Malawi highly on fiscal freedom and labour
freedom, far ahead of regional economic power house South Africa, a
pointer Malawi is getting its formula right on labour and fiscal

“The country scored well on labour freedom, with the report noting that
the non- salary cost of employing a worker was low,” the report says.

Ahead of Malawi are neighbours: Mozambique at 96, Tanzania at 97 and Zambia is ranked at 99.

“This places Malawi in the category of countries considered to be mostly unfree,” reads part of the intelligence report.

The report however says, although Malawi’s ranking actually improved
from 122nd place last year, its freedom score marginally fell by 0.2
percent points and remains below its neighbours excluding Zimbabwe.

The economic think tank says politics, which has delayed the passing of
the 2008/9 budget has created a climate of uncertainty that would slow
down donor inflows.

“With the difficulty in any case of obtaining parliamentary approval
for new projects, this makes it even more certain that there will be
cut backs in development spending,” says the report in part.

And some local analysts have blamed the situation on political impasse
saying most crucial bills are still gathering dust in parliament.

“The problem is that some of the crucial bills that would have brought
sanity on the market are not yet passed and it is not surprising that
the think tank has noted these things,” said one Blantyre based analyst.

Countries are scored over ten categories including business freedom,
property rights, monetary freedom, and government size and investment

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