Govt’s debt repayments rise to K2.5bn

Government’s debt servicing payments have climbed to an unprecedented K2.5 billion in January, 2019, the highest single disbursement for this specific obligation so far, according to Ministry of Finance data.

And Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe has expressed hope that incidences of misuse and theft of public resources will ultimately be eliminated.

In a 2019 budget brief issued from the Ministry of Finance, government paid an unprecedented amount of K2.5 billion last month in debt servicing commitments out of a total of K5.7 billion that was released by the Ministry of Finance to fund various government operations.

Government’s debt servicing last month, which comprised both external and domestic commitments, was the highest in terms of the total amount in debt payments during a single one-month period so far.

The second highest amount, from the Ministry’s data so far, was K1.5 billion paid in debt servicing commitments in October, 2018, but from a much higher amount of K6.1 billion that was released towards government operations.

January’s debt servicing payments again surpassed personal emoluments for public sector workers, which swallowed up K1.8 billion from the K5.7 billion.

This means that from the 2019 budgeted amount, debt servicing and public sector wages both gobbled up around 76 per cent of government’s budget, leaving just 24 per cent to fund other critical functions.

Commenting on the debt repayments, Mwanakatwe, however, insisted that government was committed towards ensuring there will be no debt defaults.

“To facilitate effective debt management and ensure fiscal sustainability, the
government released a sum of K2.5 billion towards the payment of both domestic and external debt. On this aspect, Mrs Mwanakatwe has reiterated her assurance that the government will continue to honour its obligations and
ensure that DEBT DEFAULT SCENARIOS DO NOT ARISE AT ALL,” the statement, availed by Ministry spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta, read.

“Further, the government spent a total of K1.8 billion on costs related to the public service wage bill. This helped to attain the timely payment of January,
2019, salaries for various public service workers, including teaching, medical and security personnel.”

And Mwanakatwe expressed hope that incidences of misuse and theft of public resources will ultimately be eliminated.

“Concluding her reflection on January, 2019, budget releases, the Minister expressed confidence that with effective enforcement of the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 2018, transparency and accountability in public finance management in Zambia will significantly improve this year. She also expressed hope that incidences of misuse and theft of public resources will reduce and ultimately, be eliminated,” read the statement.

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