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Bad borrower

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With Tsibweni Chalo:

It is cardinal that when you borrow, you must not only think about paying back; you must actually do so. You must meet the set requirements which, sometimes, do not look very frightening when you seek the money.

If you do not pay back what you borrow, you become a bad borrower and lenders may begin to ignore your appeal for support.

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Mdzukulu, it is also cardinal that when you borrow, you must think of cut-off points after which you must start consuming what you have put on your table with your own money.

If you have no idea about how to wean yourself from borrowing and believe you should forever borrow, you are a very bad borrower.

Of course, there are lenders who will always be willing to give you any amount you request because they are in business and want to make profits out of your desperation.

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They will enslave you and make sure you are so desperate that you cannot survive without borrowing. That is normal in business; the more desperate your customers are, the more they will be appealing for your support, in whatever form.

That is the situation the country is in. We keep borrowing to consume and there is no sign that we will stop doing that any time soon.

Mdzukulu, we have knocked on the doors of literally everyone willing to lend us money and we proudly feel we deserve that.

Now, our debt profile stands at around K3.5 trillion—about half of our national budget. This means that each year, we spend a good chunk of our revenue servicing loan arrears which keep rising due to our insatiable appetite for borrowing.

The most pathetic thing is that our borrowing is largely for consumption. Our legislators permit the government to borrow billions of kwacha without asking questions about what we have done with what we have been borrowing all this time.

There are countries, such as Mauritius, that borrowed money over a period of time and invested it in projects which they believed would sustain their economic gains.

We do not think about that. All we do is borrow and consume so that we can borrow again next time.

Mdzukulu, the truth is that all these loans will be serviced by our children, who will obviously be asking what we used the money for.

Another thing is that, as the government continues to borrow from domestic commercial banks, interest rates rise and ‘real’ investors fail to obtain loans which can contribute to economic development.

Our Minister of Finance and his team do not see any problem in this. Because they are failing to borrow with the aim of investing, they do not care about others doing the right things.

Mdzukulu, it is clear that what we have borrowed and what is on the ground purportedly accomplished using the loans do not match.

You sometimes wonder whether those who are keeping our national purse feel they have nothing to lose because they will not be repaying the loans as when the loans saddle our children most, they will not be there.

Mdzukulu, a good parent leaves a fortune for his children, not a burden. Those responsible for running the affair of this country must be ashamed of what they are doing to our future.

It is not wrong to borrow. In fact, even big economies like the United States borrow to cushion some gaps in their fiscal plans but they borrow sustainably.

Our experts at the Treasury might argue that our borrowing is within the sustainable levels as determined by the International Monetary Fund.

But the question remains: isn’t it time we started borrowing to invest so that such projects generate revenue with which to repay the loans?

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