Symposium Reflects on Macroeconomic Challenges Post COVID-19

UKZN Macroeconomic Research Symposium
Professor Harold Ngalawa (far right) with attendants of the MRU Symposium.

UKZN’s Macroeconomics Research Unit (MRU), a research initiative within the School of Accounting, Economics and Finance (SAEF), hosted its second International Macroeconomics Symposium under the theme Rethinking Macroeconomics post COVID-19 on 28 September.

Chairperson of the MRU, Professor Harold Ngalawa, said the symposium aimed to bring together academics, industry specialists and postgraduate students to showcase their research, share expertise and contribute evidence-based solutions to the profound macroeconomic developments and challenges faced due to the pandemic.

‘Our aim is to promote discussion of and research into economic matters,’ he said.

Opening the symposium, Professor Stephen Mutula, Dean and Head of the School of Management, IT and Governance (SMIG) said the symposium would contribute to the realisation of strategic initiatives with regard to post COVID-19 financial recovery, deriving potential solutions to and averting the possibility of another debt crisis, especially student debt which rose sharply during the pandemic.

‘The symposium provides a theoretical and empirical platform for future faculty and student research projects,’ he said.

In his keynote address, Professor Zsolt Darvas, Senior Research Fellow at Corvinus University of Budapest highlighted that the symposium was also crucial to address the complex macroeconomic challenges like government debt and increased interest rates brought on by the pandemic.

‘At any one-time, a debt level increase in itself is not a concern for fiscal sustainability; however, higher nominal and real interest rates are of concern, as are weaker growth rates in emerging countries and developing economies as well as currency depreciations in countries with foreign currency debt,’ he said.

Darvas added that growth-friendly fiscal consolidation and reforms, increased revenue sources, better financial management and foreign aid mobilisation are required to tackle these issues.

The symposium was well-attended, with more than 53 presentations by academics, industry specialists and postgraduate students. Co-ordinator of the Conference, Dr Sanele Gumede, senior lecturer for Economics, said the research output presented will not only contribute to well-informed policy decisions and implementation, but some of papers will also be published in leading journals.

Words and photograph: Samukelisiwe Cele

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