BANKING AND THE POOR
Zambia’s economic liberalisation has not meaningfully touched or made a lasting impact on the lives of the poor. The citizenly cannot eat statistics or quarterly economic reports. The poor remain outside any market oriented economic activity. They add to demand without augmenting supply of goods and services. The supply side or the sigma effect of investment is ignored. In today’s economy, the vision of a self-sufficient village is highly relevant.
Conventional economic wisdom emphasizes investment for elongation of production or increase in its round aboutness by adding capital. This would certainly raise productivity but would not integrate the poor into income/real goods/services generating activity because they do not have any skills and are not even 3R literate. If we approach the problem of rural development from the view point of bringing the poor into income generating activity by making them directly productive, we can make their life meaningful. Poverty can be alleviated only if the poor are integrated into the national economic framework by involving them in income generating activities on a continuous basis. Labour earns a wage when it contributes to production for market or exchange. That is what we have to ensure. This involves at each village, identification of activities based on resource endowment which could be natural resources, traditional skills or in their absence, footloose activities into projects which generate a cash flow. Generally, the poor are by nature, apathetic and fatalistic and cannot come forth with viable projects.
Identification of activities, planning and implementation of projects (IPIP) which are viable/bankable and generate cash flows to meet the service charges and leave adequate compensation for the labour by organizing the poor into groups to implement the projects has to be undertaken. These projects could be resource based, footloose (no resource) or traditional craft-based. The barefoot...