Balanced Development

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The issue of economic imbalances has drawn close attention from the many countries of the world. It includes imbalances between savings and consumption, the poor and the rich and imports and exports in some countries. But more importantly, it manifests itself in the imbalances in wealth distribution, resource availability and consumption and the monetary system. The causes for such imbalances are complex and manifold. Factors at work include deepening economic globalization, division of labour and industrial relocation, and capital flow. Therefore, the aim of this essay is to discuss balanced development and critically discuss why Zambia should strike a balance between agricultural and industrial investments.

Balanced development is defined as the creation of equal opportunities for all people to participate in, contribute to and benefit from development. The requirement for such a balanced development is human development, which is the process of enlarging people’s choices as to what they do and can do in their lives. Balanced development also shows how two sectors or regions interact out of steady state through product, labour, and capital markets, and how if the former interaction dominates the growth of one sector pulls along the growth of the other, while if the latter interactions dominate one sector or region booms while the other declines. To focus on one sector at the expense of another would be to deviate from the nascence of a balanced development. Thus, in general it refers to giving equal emphasis to all dimensions of development, hopefully leading to an increase in national income and a better quality of life, with equal opportunity for the rich and poor alike, for both urban communities and rural areas, and for both large and small businesses (Johnson, 1993:3-8).

To achieve the scenario, a country must be backed by well-executed financial, legal and administrative reforms. To achieve balanced development, governments need to ensure the establishment and maintenance of a level playing field. This should be done by enabling all to develop to their full capabilities and by removing any social and regulatory obstacles. In order to enable people, areas and regions to develop to their full capabilities, governments must ensure access to infrastructure and services, including information and credit, opportunities for social and economic mobility and participation in decision-making so that more people can seize such opportunities. However, past experiences show that the better-off are in a position to seize new opportunities created by infrastructure development, the introduction of new technologies or decentralization, and that the poorest of the poor are, also by definition, unable to do so. It is important to ensure that interventions benefit at least those who are just below the poverty line and give them the opportunity to improve themselves. In addition, efforts should be made to maximize any trickle-down effect to reach the poorest of the poor. Because it is difficult for the poorest of the poor to seize new opportunities and because changes in the social and economic environment may cause new forms of poverty and disparity, the development of support mechanisms and safety nets for those who, for one reason or another, are unable to benefit from development remains a necessity. To be effective, the safety nets and support mechanisms should match the specific needs and conditions of the people concerned (Lummis 1999: 43-50).

Balanced development requires investment in urban and rural development to reduce poverty and ensure an adequate standard of living for the population in both rural and urban areas. Similarly, disparities between areas need to be reduced as they can pose a threat to the stability of the nation. It is of critical importance for economically backward countries to develop transport and communication links with markets, seaports and other transport nodes to exploit their comparative...
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