GOVERNMENT is about to award a US$5 million tender for the provision of advisory services in relation to its debt management to Lazard Freres, a French firm, over a delivery period of three years.

According to a Tender Notice addressed to the firm, among five other bidders, Ministry of Finance head of procurement and supplies unit Sylvia Sichone announced that government was on the verge of selecting Lazard Freres to provide it with debt management and advisory services for a bid contract price of $5 million.

“The Ministry of Finance in line with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act No. 12 of 2008 Clause 53, would like to notify all the bidders that participated in this tender of its intention to award the tender to the Best Evaluated Bidder after the completion of the evaluation process and award by the Ministry Procurement Committee to the following firm: Lazard Freres; Proposed Contract Amount: US $5,000,000.00; Country: France; Delivery Period: 36 months,” read the notice, dated May 26.

“This notice of intention to award the tender expires on May 29, 2020, from the date of this letter. Kindly note that the bidders have the right to appeal under the Public Procurement Act No. 12 of 2008 and in accordance with the Public Procurement Regulations, 2011. Any bidder intending to appeal shall do that and ensure that the appeal is received by the Ministry of Finance before the expiry date of May 29, 2020.”

Among the five losing bidders, who bid for the tender were: London-based Newstate Partners; Potomac Group, a US company; Deutsche Bank and Rothschild and Company, a multinational investment bank and financial services company; Absa Bank and Barclays Bank Plc and White Oak Advisory Limited, another London-based independent financial advisory firm.

Zambia’s external debt officially stands at US$11.20 billion, the highest in the country’s history, mainly on account of new disbursements on existing loans, mostly earmarked for infrastructure development.

The country’s new external debt position represents an increase of around US $1 billion from the previous US $10.23 billion by June 30, 2019, compared to US $10.05 billion as at December 31, 2018, and US $8.74 billion by the end of 2017.

Data also shows that Zambia’s domestic debt stock equally jumped to K80.2 billion at the end of last year from K60.3 billion at end-June 2019, compared to over K58 billion by the end of 2018, and K48.4 billion by the end of 2017.