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Zambia’s economic growth on track – Chikwanda

NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
MINISTER of Finance Alexander Chikwanda says the country’s economy this year has remained strong with preliminary real gross domestic product (GDP) growth at six percent, making the country the seventh and 10th fastest growing economy in sub-Saharan Africa and the world, respectively.
And Mr Chikwanda says Government is committed and will ensure that programmes and activities approved by parliament in the 2015 budget are effectively and efficiently implemented.
He said in a statement issued yesterday that this is consistent with Government’s vision of Zambia becoming a middle-income prosperous nation.
Mr Chikwanda said the positive performance has been driven by the agriculture, manufacturing, construction, energy, transport, communication and financial sectors.
“Preliminary data shows that mining is expected to contract on account of operational challenges at some localities during the year under review,” he said.
Mr Chikwanda said between 2015 and 2017, GDP growth is expected to escalate to an average of seven percent, principally as a result of increased agricultural production, electricity generation, construction and growth in transport and communication.
Mr Chikwanda said Government remains committed to resolving the matter of value added tax (VAT) refunds to mining houses and other sectors.
He said this issue has been delayed on account of court actions which some mining companies have instituted.
“For next year, we have made provisions to cover normal VAT refunds as well as dismantling prior claims where sufficient documentation is provided,” the minister said.
Mr Chikwanda said investor confidence continued to be strong this year and that evidence to this was re-affirmation of the country’s sovereign credit ratings at a ceiling of B+ coupled with the continued rise in foreign direct investment (FDI) flows.
He said Government has made progress in drafting of the Planning and Budgeting Bill that will be presented to parliament next year.
“This will help us enhance transparency of the budget and increase oversight by institutions such as parliament,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He said Government will continue with inclusive growth and job creation strategies through ensuring macroeconomic stability to support both local and foreign direct investment.
The minister said Government will continue to pay particular attention to diversification of the economy and support small and medium enterprises.

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