Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) executive director Isaac Mwaipopo says government should put in place practical measures that will put the country on a path of economic recovery.

Reacting to last week’s Monitory Policy rate statement by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) that the country is far from attaining debt sustainability due to the huge level of indebtedness and massive restructuring required in the economy, Mwaipopo said he saw this coming.

He said government should take the caution by the BoZ seriously and find new strategies of recovering the economy.

“As the Centre for Trade Policy and Development, we welcome the monitory policy rate that was given by the Bank of Zambia. And we think that the Bank of Zambia has done well to maintain the MPC rates as it has taken into consideration the ongoing challenges that the country is facing. We also think that it will give an opportunity to some of the strategies or measures that government is trying to implement to ensure that we improve the liquidity situation within the economy,” Mwaipopo said in an interview.

“The BoZ policy statement vindicates us on the calls we have been making as the civil society for a long time. We have now gotten to a point where our priority now is to provide the opportunities that can be followed to get out of this situation because we already saw this coming for a long time. It’s very unfortunate that government has not been listening to the recommendations that have been coming through from the civil society. It is our hope that now that the Central Bank is raising the same concerns, there will be introspection and government will apply practical measures that can help this country begin to get back to normal.”

Mwaipopo said the unsustainable debt levels were now affecting the country in accessing international support as partners had lost confidence on Zambia’s ability to pay back.

“It is also our recommendation as the Centre for Trade Policy and Development that government should take seriously the caution that is coming through from the Bank of Zambia with regards to the sustainability of debt. Debt has really gotten to unsustainable levels and this is impacting negatively on our ability to mobilize resources to finance development. And not only that, it is now affecting our ability to even access support from the International Monitory Fund. It is also sending a bad signal to anybody that might want to do business with our country and that affects our ability to even access facilities at a cost that is affordable,” he said.

Mwaipopo also urged government to desist from giving lip service but to implement austerity measures.

“It makes it expensive for our country to borrow from other countries because they will be afraid of our ability to pay back. So, the government should take the BoZ recommendations seriously. Our debt has reached unsustainable levels and we need to adhere to the measures that we are developing for ourselves whom some of which include the austerity measures. The measures should not only be said out in speeches but they should be followed and implemented. By now we should be getting to economic recovery,” said Mwaipopo.