Zambia’s foreign debt embarrassing – HH
By Kombe Chimpinde Mataka
PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says if financial leakages are sealed, the country can meet the demand of desks in schools countrywide by 2023.
He says Zambia’s foreign debt is “very embarrassing and sometimes we must have a sense of shame, just a bit of it so we can learn lessons to help the community”.
Opening the second session of the 13th
National Assembly on Friday, President Hichilema admitted that the hole through which the government is losing resources “is big”.
He said the government had enhanced the collection of revenue and reduced
some financial leakages but more still needed to be done, citing the Auditor General’s Report which has reported a loss of over K2.6
billion in internal control weakness relating to the administration of government payroll.
“We have been able to enhance revenue collection and leakages reduced. This is only the beginning. I must say here Madam Speaker that more work needs to be done in this area. I am the first one to say so, I ask others to agree. More work and efforts shall be made to seal loopholes in and around the payroll,” President Hichilema said. “What sits there, Madam Speaker, is an acceptable. Money is being taken by people who don’t work for government. A government worker will receive two, three salaries. The Auditor General is on it Madam Speaker at our behest. So I repeat more work and efforts shall be made to seal loopholes in and around the payroll for central government, for local government and related institutions, parastatals, regulatory bodies. This hole is big. So no complaints again. Let us work together. We save resources from there, we can meet our target of desks for all kids by 2023. That is the connection.”
And President Hichilema said never again should the country slip into another debt trap.
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“Madam Speaker, to provide for better management of debt contraction, we are bringing good news. To manage better public debt contraction, that led to extravagance and a debt crisis after HIPC. Just 10 years after HIPC, unbelievable. This responsible government of yours wants to reign in on this irresponsibility and ensure it does not return ever again. We shouldn’t be doing the same thing over and over again. It is not good. It is wasteful. And actually, it is embarrassing. Very embarrassing and sometimes we must have a sense of shame, just a bit of it so we can learn lessons to help the community,” President Hichilema said. “The provisions I must say are to provide for better public debtmcontraction as well as operationalising he provisions of the Constitution. This your government is undertaking public financing
management as part of strengthening transparency and accountability and not to allow repetition of costly mistakes. This is evidenced Madam Speaker by the enactment of the public debt management Act No. 7 of 2022 and thank you to this parliament for passing that law and it is now being enacted. No more games around this issue.”
HIPC refers to the heavily indebted poor countries, a group of 39 developing countries with high levels of poverty and debt overhang which were eligible for special assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Most of their debt was written off. Zambia was beneficiary.
President Hichilema told the House that the Act empowered the members of parliament, who were the representatives of the people
of Zambia, to provide oversight on debt contraction so that “never again should our country go back into a debt trap”.
“And the voters of Zambia are watching. They are listening. I think they had understood what it means to elect leadership,” said President Hichilema.