Zambia set for more EU, G-8 support

The call from Britain comes as a result of the European country’s satisfaction with the southern African nation’s response to its economic challenges. Britain urged the EU and G-8 to deliver their commitments made to the Tony Blair Commission for Africa this year. British High Commissioner to South Africa, Paul Boateng, who was in Zambia this week, urged the G-8 and EU to maintain their momentum in assisting the country. Boateng said there was need to redouble efforts aimed at assisting Zambia and other African countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “Britain has confidence in Zambia’s reform programme of good governance, transparency and accountability with policies that promote growth,” he said. Boateng who stayed in Zambia in the 1980s, said the country played a key role in the liberation of Africa by making enormous sacrifices at great cost. The new challenge was to put Zambia’s economy back on track and the government was responding well through good fiscal management. He said the British government fully supported Zambia’s fight against corruption and would ensure that its lawyers, bankers and accountants were not used to facilitate corruption in Africa. Britain this week released 7,2 million pounds to Zambia, and will disburse another 4,6 million pounds within months before making the final donation that would put the total budget support in 2006 at 19,3 million pounds. “Zambia is on the right road to attaining the MDGs and as donors we are determined to play our part in helping meet those obligations,” Boateng said. President Mwanawasa said getting Zambia to the point it was now was a proud achievement but a lot more needed to be done to reduce high poverty levels. He said his administration reduced poverty from 80 percent to 68 percent. Mwanawasa said he would have done a lot but was often detracted by critics. Meanwhile, Mwanawasa has called for continued strong co-operation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Zambia’s quest for sustainable economic development. He said Zambia had enjoyed good ties with the multi-lateral lending institution and wanted this relationship to continue. Mwanawasa was speaking when visiting IMF managing director, Rodrigo De Rato, called on him at State House in Lusaka. The President’s delegation included Finance and National Planning Minister, Ng’andu Magande, Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor, Caleb Fundanga, the President’s economic adviser, Dr Moses Banda, Secretary to the Treasury, Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane and other senior government officials. The donor community, led by the IMF, last year gave Zambia and 13 other sub-Saharan countries debt relief in a bid to get them out of unsustainable debt and stir them back on the path to economic growth and reduced poverty. De Rato told Mwanawasa that Zambia and other countries that had been given debt relief needed to come up with economic models that would boost economic growth and reduce poverty. Later during a round-table meeting, which included representatives of civil society, the IMF managing director said his institution was committed to being a dependable partner with Zambia and other low-income countries under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). IMF support to Zambia and other low-income countries that had been given debt relief would now take the form of advice centred on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). De Rato said the IMF would help low income countries design medium term strategies to ensure sustainable debt as increasing aid without proper macro-economic management would not yield positive results. Africa’s financial sector was largely underdeveloped and there was need to understand it because it could play an important role in promoting economic growth. There was also cardinal need for African countries to build capacities elsewhere. De Rato said at a Press briefing that managing appreciating currencies was a double-edged sword and Zambia should take advantage of its strong Kwacha at a time when global oil prices were rising but ensure that exports also remained competitive. He said the appreciation of the Kwacha at a time when oil prices were rising would work to Zambia’s advantage but the government should also initiate structural changes to ensure Zambian exports remained competitive on the international market. In another development, the axle load control regulation has failed to control overloading of vehicles in the country, Ministry of Communications and Transport permanent secretary Bobby Samakai has said. Appearing before a committee on communication, transport, works and supply chaired by Siavonga UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima, Samakai observed that lack of control of overloaded vehicles had caused rapid deterioration of the road network in the country. The committee invited Samakai to shed light on the Public Roads amendment Bill (2006). Samakai responded that the government was spending a lot of money on road maintenance and repair and yet little money was being realised from overloading charges. “Therefore the Bill must be supported because any delays will only work to the disadvantage of the country as roads will continue to be damaged,” Samakai said. He said though it was good to make good laws, it would not save the roads without effective enforcement system. Samakai explained that an effective system would send a clear message to habitual offenders that their days of overloading were numbered.

April 2006
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