KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
CABINETÂ has approved the conversion of all debt owed to Government by Zesco, Zambia Railways, Zamtel and Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) into equity amounting to about K3.5 billion (US$299,515,439.23).
The decision was made in the 28th Cabinet meeting held on Monday.
Acting chief government spokesperson Vincent Mwale said at a press briefing yesterday that the decision is meant to clean the balance sheets of the firms and make them profitable and attractive for investment.
Mr Mwale said this will also help make the companies more viable and enable them attract investment without relying on government guarantees to obtain financing for expansion.
â€œCabinet has approved the conversion of all debt owed to Government by the four state-owned enterprises (SOEs) into equity amounting to K3,492,350,021.41 as at December 31, 2014 which is equivalent to US$299,515.439.23,â€ he said.
â€œGovernment has continued to support the existence of these companies in view of their strategic nature to the development of the country,â€ he said.
Mr Mwale gave a breakdown of the SOEs debt as: Zambia Railways K627,046,920.46; Zesco K1,170,117,886.1; NCZ K191,346,971.00; and Zamtel K1,503,838,243.85.
Mr Mwale said this during a press briefing on the decisions made at the 28th Cabinet meeting at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.
Cabinet also approved the Chinsali-Nakonde road rehabilitation project loans amounting to US$193 million to be contracted from African Development Bank (ADB) and another US$50 million also from ADB on behalf of the Africa Growing Together Fund.
Mr Mwale said the Chinsali-Nakonde road is an economically viable project as it facilitates business between Zambia and Tanzania, and other countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa COMESA.
â€œIt is in the interest of Government to ensure that the road infrastructure is in good condition, hence the huge investment in this sector as has been demonstrated in the past four years,â€ Mr Mwale said.
He said Cabinet has also approved the contraction of a loan from Export Import Bank of China amounting to US$128 million to support the implementation of the Kafue bulk water supply project.
He said that the project will facilitate provision of clean water and sanitation facilities as well as mitigate health risks in Lusaka.
Mr Mwale said Government has also approved the contraction of a loan of US$170 million from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to support the implementation of phase two of the Nkana water supply and sanitation project.
â€œIt is in the interest of Government to borrow specifically for infrastructure development and not consumption. The implementation of Kafue bulk water supply project and Nkana water supply and sanitation project are very important,â€ he said.
Cabinet has also approved that a â€˜layout designs of integrated circuits bill, 2015â€™ be published and introduced in Parliament.
The proposed bill seeks, among other things, to recognise, protect and support the inalienable rights and duties of qualified owners over their layout designs or topographies of integrated circuits.
Furthermore, Government has approved the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury whose objectives is to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds.
KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka