HONE SIAME, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has assured investors that Government has put in place adequate security measures to protect their investments and capital expansion
programmes from unscrupulous people who are burning public property.
And President Lungu has called on the banking sector to support Government’s economic diversification programme by reducing interest rates to make it easy for Zambians to get loans.
The President urged both local and foreign investors to go about their normal business operations as their investments are safe.
He said the decision to invoke Article 31 of the republican Constitution to give police more powers to stop a spate of economic sabotage is aimed at protecting their investments and interests.
President Lungu was speaking at State House when he held a meeting with chief executive officers from the banking sector before addressing a press conference.
“We want business to thrive. We have to protect businesses. Things have been slowly getting out of hand. I want to assure you that the proclamation will not have any negative impact on the business,” he said.
He said Government remains committed to providing an enabling environment for investors to ensure they get a return on their investments and contribute to the development of the country’s economy.
He said it is his desire to see the banking sector make great contribution to the growth of the country’s economy by supporting economic sectors.
He said it has been a challenge for Zambians to access loans because of the high interest rates.
The head of State said the high interest rates are frustrating Government’s economic diversification programme into agriculture, tourism and through industrialisation.
Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ) chairperson Charles Mudiwa said the banking sector is committed to supporting the growth of key economic sectors through extension of credit facilities to both the private and public sectors.
“We will continue to nurture our collaboration with the Government. The Bankers Association of Zambia is further looking at creating a cashless society through the promotion of digital payment platforms,” he said.
He said the association will also continue focusing on financial inclusion through increased advocacy and financial education initiatives.
“Currently, financial inclusion sits at 59 percent, and we are looking forward to achieve 80 percent by 2020. We can only achieve this by improving the culture of saving in Zambia. With increased savings, commercial banks will have adequate deposits to extend to the development sectors,” Mr Mudiwa said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu said Government’s engagements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over the impending bailout package for its economic stabilisation and growth programme will continue.
He ruled out fears by some sections of society that the security measures Government has undertaken will affect the conclusion of negotiations.
He said the IMF package cannot yield the anticipated economic gains in an environment where there is lawlessness.
“I don’t think the IMF would like to see the country destroyed. If the IMF wants to go because of article 31 of the Constitution I have invoked, they can be. We cannot sacrifice the Zambian people at the altar of economic expediency.
“People have to be safe. If they think I have gone astray, let them go. There is a threat to peace here,” he said.
He said his interest is to secure the lives of Zambians, property and the country’s investments through enforcement of the necessary legal provisions in the Constitution.