Zambia’s cooperating partners are confident that the Government is on the right path to economic recovery. The sentiments were echoed by various cooperating partners during a recent meeting held with the Government.
Related to the meeting, Chairperson of the Cooperating Partners Group [CPG] and Head of the British Department for International Cooperation [DFID] in Zambia, Bruce Lawson-McDowall, said Zambia has the potential to attract further international investment, develop her economy rapidly and share proceeds of growth more equally among Zambian’s.
“We need to work together to diversify the economy and, as Cooperating Partners, we stand ready to support continued focus on broad-based and long term growth which will lead to job creation,” said Mr. Lawson-McDowall.
He said to address the immediate fiscal and long term debt challenges, Cooperating Partners were committed to stand alongside Government to address the challenges through a credible economic recovery program embedded in the Seventh National Development Plan [7NDP].
“It will also be important to increase transparency of the budget process and involve a wide-range of stakeholders in the development of the economic recovery program,” he said, adding that, “Cooperating Partners were already providing assistance to; generate evidence of what works; increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government expenditure in addressing poverty; and increase budget credibility.”
The Cooperating Partners urged the Government to ensure that implementation of the 7NDP focusses on setting the right regulatory environment and developing policies that are predictable, consistent and supportive of poverty reduction, private sector growth, and job creation. Zambia’s Cooperating Partners are currently working with government counterparts in 15 sector groups.
And Finance Minister Felix Mutati will this week be leading a government delegation to the 2016 IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States of America.
“The relationship between Zambia and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] is strong and we look forward to working with you to strengthen this partnership further,” said IMF Director for the African Department Abebe Aemro Selassie in a congratulatory letter delivered to Mr. Mutati by IMF Resident Representative Alfredo Baldini a few days ago.
“I wish to assure you that we at the IMF are fully committed to assisting you in formulating and implementing policies to stabilize the macroeconomic situation and achieve sustained and inclusive growth for the benefit of all,” reads the letter in part.
The Ministry of Finance has embarked on extensive engagement with internal and external stakeholders to ensure that wide consultation is attained in formulating economic recovery policies which will be announced alongside the 2017 Budget.
As part of the economic recovery program consultation process, Mr. Mutati has in the preceding week also met the Multi-Sectoral Private Sector Group, Cooperating Partners, The Bankers Association of Zambia, The Chamber of Mines, Debt Action Non-State Actors, the Industrial Development Corporation, the Bank of Zambia, and the Zambia Revenue Authority and others.
And World Bank Country Manager for Zambia Ms. Ina Ruthenberg has said Zambia has a portfolio of sixteen active projects with a net commitment of US$ 802 million. The projects are in agriculture, water, energy and extractive industries, social protection and labour, health, population and nutrition, environment and natural resources, and governance.
Of the sixteen projects, seven  are national with a net commitment of US$ 502 million of which only US$ 99 million has been disbursed.
Another seven  are regional projects with a net commitment of US$247 million and a further two  are trust funded projects with a total value of US$53 million.
During a courtesy call on the Minister, Ms. Ruthenberg expressed concern with Zambia’s the low funds uptake from 2012 to date, “below the African average of 20% of the undisbursed balance annually,” adding that, “Zambia needed to disburse US$ 74.1 million annually to reach the African average in 2017.
And commenting on the engagement with the development partners, Finance Minister Felix Mutati has said there is need for collaboration in developing a home-grown economic recovery program for Zambia.
“We need to change our mind-set and simplify bureaucratic practices in order to quicken our pace of donor resource absorption for important economic activities like irrigation development,’ Mr. Mutati has said.
The Minister has also appealed to the World Bank to streamline regulations governing access to committed resources to ensure that development programs are not inordinately delayed.
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