Editor's Comment

Ignore self-centred critics

LUSAKA City.

GOVERNMENT, under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu, has placed foreign investment attraction top on its agenda of accelerated development.
Zambia, like many other developing countries, needs foreign direct investment to speed up its development agenda.
This is because the country has limited resources and expertise to exploit all available development opportunities.
Government has therefore put in place a number of measures and policies to create a conducive environment for investment.
While Government is working so hard to attract the much-needed investment, we are taken aback by some politicians whose careless talk is undermining these efforts.
It is saddening that our political scene has been invaded by some wrong elements determined to do anything to gain political mileage even if it means hurting the country.
Some politicians, with known agendas, have taken to the podium to discredit Government and the country by inflating its debt stock.
In a clear campaign to make Government unpopular, some politicians are claiming that Zambia’s debt stock is much higher than what has been declared.
According to the Debt Sustainability Analysis, Zambia’s external debt stock as of December 31, 2017 was US$8.7 billion, with domestic debt standing at K48.4 billion, while domestic arrears stood at K12.7 billion.
According to financial experts, Zambia is still within manageable levels though it has to tread carefully to avoid sliding to the wrong side.
Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe has come out categorical. As far as Government is concerned, and there is no reason to doubt, the stated figures are a true reflection of the country’s debt stock.
“As Government, these are the loans that we have contracted. We wish to state that every contracted loan is published in the Government’s mid-year and annual economic reports that are laid before the National Assembly as required by law. The economic reports are widely distributed both to our electronic and print media audiences. The 2017 annual economic report has been published and can be accessed on the Ministry of Finance’s website and data portal,” Mrs Mwanakatwe said.
The minister also points out the fact that all of Zambia’s debt payments are provided for in the audited financial report and cross-checked against debts in the database. The information is also laid before the National Assembly.
Despite such readily available and accessible information in public domain on the country’s debt status, it is absurd that some individuals go out of their way to cook up figures.
These figures are fed to unsuspecting and uninformed citizens as a way of raising discontent against Government.
As rightly pointed by Mrs Mwanakatwe, these unsubstantiated claims also have potential to erode investor confidence in the economy.
Exaggerating the country’s external debt stock, if left unchecked, can have devastating effects by closing doors to the much-needed investment and subsequently development.
While it is acknowledged that opposition political parties and other stakeholders have the responsibility to offer checks and balances to Government, these should be done in the most sincere and objective manner.
Actually, the purpose of offering checks and balances should be in national interest.
However, it raises concern if the so-called checks and balances are hurting the very people they are meant to serve.
For instance, in whose interest is exaggerating the country’s debt stock?
Certainly not in national interest!
It is unacceptable that people perpetuating such falsehoods do so knowing very well the effect on investor confidence.
This kind of sabotage should not be entertained or allowed to continue by well-meaning Zambians.
Law enforcers need to move in and ensure that those bent on advancing political agendas at the expense of the country’s development are brought to book.
As a country that still has a long way to go in its development journey, we cannot afford such levels of careless talk.

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