By: Osvaldo de Lemos Macaia
How many souls must be present here?! He questioned, but with a strong exclamation point, one of the international observers present in one of the tribunes of the mass act carried out by the MPLA Party, bearing in mind the closing of the electoral campaign. Another observer said, on my count we should be close to 1 Million souls. Cousins, it was with this question/exclamation that I was received on my arrival at the location of the MPLA rally and the candidate for reelection to the President of the Republic João Lourenço, held yesterday (20.08.2022), in Camama, Luanda. I had the opportunity to be and experience that moment of profound demonstration of strength and unity and, above all, a strong sense of organization and mobilization of the MPLA.
Returning to the subject, or rather your view of the Country, it is important to be cautious in our choices and options. It is a well-established fact that our generation has easy access to information, essentially through social networks, which generates some anxiety in quick accomplishments. However, cousin, allow me to give you some advice: in life, we should always seek knowledge, but from the perspective of a deep diver (diving deep) and not merely a surfer (swim on the surface).
Considering that there are only two days left for us to exercise our right of citizenship, namely, the choice of political training and the leader who will preside over the country’s destinies in the next 5 years, although I am suspicious, due to my professional path (as you laconically say) , I ask for attention to the reasons that justify my vote for MPLA=8.
The first 5 years of President João Lourenço’s term of office represented a profound paradigm shift in our country, in several areas, of which it is important to highlight:
1. A unique opening of rights, freedoms and guarantees, with particular emphasis on freedom of expression. Our generation today can speak more openly about politics, about government options and decisions, about public policy choices. Gone are the days when our society, so traumatized as it was by censorship and self-censorship, decided to respond through our musicality with iconic music: “(…) Xé Menino doesn’t speak politics, he doesn’t speak politics (…) . Definitely, today we are all more active from the point of view of exercising our civic and political rights;
2. Greater awareness of the need to effectively promote the market economy and free economic initiative, with particular focus on the ongoing privatization process, with a view to generating greater efficiency in the management of idle economic assets and job creation
3. Credibility of our economy and our public finances, through the Agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is important to underline that in the past there have been several failed attempts, even in the face of a glaring macro-fiscal imbalance.
4. Still on the agreement with the IMF, allow me to make the following analogy: President João Lourenço preferred to adopt a responsible stance, becoming aware of the country’s disease, in this case a cancer (meaning “profound imbalance of the fiscal accounts of the Country”) and preferred hospitalization and treatment based on the chemotherapy procedure, instead of outpatient treatment and only in SOS, that is, only when some symptoms manifest themselves punctually;
5. Cousins, just for your better information, it is important to frame how our economy was in 2017: negative growth, systematic budget deficits, strong external deficits, falling international reserves, high inflation and an almost unsustainable public debt.
6. Regarding public debt, a note that deserves particular attention is the fact that the debt to GDP ratio has increased from 128% in 2020 to 82% in 2021, with a downward trend being that in the first quarter of 2022 this indicator registered 66%. That’s good news cousin… since an unsustainable public debt can compromise the quality of life of our children’s and grandchildren’s generation;
7. In terms of the exchange rate, we cannot forget that in 2017 the official exchange rate and that of the informal market registered a differential of 150%, currently being 12%, with a downward trend. With foreign exchange liberalization and the elimination of various administrative barriers (real bottlenecks, by the way) in foreign exchange operations, the current exchange rate and monetary policy appears clear and transparent. The current exchange rate and monetary policy is clearly contrary to the clientelism and opportunism that occurred in the past, reducing the role of the Central Bank to a sort of commercial or retail bank, exonerated from its supervisory role and macroprudential authority.
8. The inflation rate went from 41.9% in 2016 to 17% in 2019. In 2020 there was an inflation of 25%, this growing movement being strongly influenced by the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic crisis. Meanwhile, until June 2022 the inflation rate registered 23.3% with a downward trend, even in the face of a contrary international situation, influenced by bottlenecks in distribution chains, the Russia/Ukraine war and some uncertainties in terms of the geopolitical and geostrategic positions of the major international powers.
9. In terms of net international reserves, from 2014 to 2017 there was a decrease of around 14 billion USD, while from 2018 to 2021 there was a decrease of only 1.2 billion USD. The level of net international reserves is an important indicator for assessing the financial and economic strength of countries that do not have internationally tradable currencies, which is the case of Angola;
10. The country has not registered a positive growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) since 2015, which was 0.94%. In 2021, the country recorded positive GDP growth of around 0.7%, with non-oil GDP growing by 6.4%. The growing trend in the non-oil sector proves to be a good indicator, as it allows for some stability of tax revenues to meet current expenditures, especially the civil service payroll. Fortunately, according to the State Budget Execution Report, non-oil revenue is currently able to support the public service payroll;
11. Cousin, as you can see, there is a lot of good news, well detailed, we can still fill a few more numbers. But I cannot finish without noting an aspect that should deeply mark all of us who were born and raised in the province of Cabinda:
CONSTANT CONCERN AND SENSITIVITY IN THE SPEECH AND PRONUNCIATIONS OF PRESIDENT JOÃO LOURENÇO TOWARDS THE PROVINCE OF CABINDA;
12. There has never been so much political will to develop the Province of Cabinda. It is clear in the speeches and positioning of the President the need to: (i) create conditions for greater mobility and interconnectivity in Cabinda/Luanda/Cabinda; (ii) the need to position Cabinda as a platform for economic cooperation with neighboring countries, through the creation of sustainable infrastructure, such as ports, airports, special economic zones and logistics platforms; (iii) the creation of added value to the main industry in the province, with the construction of the Cabinda Refinery, with potential for the development of the petrochemical industry; (iv) the creation and extension to Cabinda of sustainable energy facilities, in competition with energy from the Turbines, the latter being unsustainable because they are expensive and not very environmentally friendly;
13. For the first time, at the level of major fiscal policy options, the need to create a specific fiscal and customs regime for Cabinda is recognized. In the future, a special exchange rate regime should also be thought of, with the need to boost the potential for transactions with neighboring countries
Cousin, certainly after this long incursion of mine, your answer, strongly influenced by skepticism, will be: this is nothing more than a simple political campaign and that politicians are not committed to the wishes of the people. So, my answer would be the following: the MPLA is a great organization and strongly committed to an agenda of development and progress of our young nation. In an organization, whatever it is (church, associations, schools, among others) do not let your judgment/evaluation of the organization be influenced by the behavior of the unworthy that are part of the organization, but by your belief and faith in the Development Agenda and constant progress of the project.
Finally, let us pray that President João Lourenço does not lose this enthusiasm and desire to build a better country for all of us to live in.
AN APPEAL, VOTE 8 ON THE 24TH
By Osvaldo de Lemos Macaia/ INSEAD BUSINESS SCHOOL MBA CANDIDATE