Again the World Bank applies is one-size-fits-all policy, again we are the target. There are problems with government finance, as all governments face restraints on their ability to carry out good policies for everyone. And again the World Bank prescribes austerity.
What is surprising is that they tell doom for something that can be read as very positive: they say the government wage bill is too high. What raised the government wage bill over the past years however, was hiring more nurses, teachers and police officers.
We are far below the WHO recommended rate of nurses, we are far below the government target of 1:60 on the teacher-learner ration, and we have a clear problem with rising crime, which necessitates more police action. So these new teachers, nurses and police officers are very welcome to the country.
In fact they contribute greatly to the economy that needs to cough up the funds to pay for government expenditure.
In the 21st century, more than ever before, the population needs to be well educated to empower the country to compete on the world market. We have a lowly educated society, so we need more teachers to make up for the shortfall.
Our health system is understaffed, and an unhealthy population cannot work hard and make the economy grow. So we need more nurses to keep the population healthy.
Crime affects the economy negatively, as it impacts on the profitability of enterprises. Again the police are needed for law and order as well as for the economy.
Clearly, not hiring the people that have just been educated at the public purse makes no economic sense and no sense in other ways either. It is just the World Banks neo-liberal orthodoxy that takes the overhand over common sense and the interests of Malawians.
If we need austerity, we do not need it at the level of implementation, where these people have been hired. We need it at the level of Capital Hill, where many highly trained professionals are turning out policy papers and the like without regard for implementation. If policies are not implemented, they are useless, and the money spent on them is wasted.
We do not need a hiring stop, we need public sector reform at the highest levels, and we need a reform in the way our civil servants are deployed. We need the greatest talents in the districts to implement the many policies that are now gathering dust on Capital Hill. We need all departments reformed so they are empowered to deliver, and we need all staff to be required to deliver.
Reform, not a hiring stop or austerity for the poor people at the bottom of the pyramid.