BRITISH High Commissioner to Zambia Nicholas Woolley says the appointment of Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane as Finance Minister is very inspiring as he brings a huge amount of experience and expertise and won’t be shy to make fiscal decisions.
And immediate past Minister of Finance Dr Bwalya Ng’andu says he will allow Dr Musokotwane to settle in his new office before he can start throwing bricks at him.
Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s The Update programme, Friday evening, High Commissioner Woolley said the new minister had the experience and expertise to make the necessary reforms needed to make the country’s debt sustainable.
“He brings a huge amount of experience and expertise to that office and I know that he is very focused on taking those kind of decisions, including decisions on the reforms that will be necessary in order to make Zambia’s debt sustainable and of course debt sustainability is very important. I am noting future funding activities including an IMF [programme] and anything else that the government would want to engage on and so I would expect that over the next weeks and months, they will look at what the budget can do in that regard and its somewhere where the UK can definitely support in terms of engagement with the IMF, the World Bank and the others,”High Commissioner Woolley said.
And when asked whether the appointment inspired confidence, High Commissioner Woolley responded in the affirmative.
“Certainly, I think it does, I mean it’s very recent, so guessing how the markets have responded, we have already seen in recent days how the kwacha has strengthened significantly against the dollar and the pound and others, the kwacha if not, is the best performing currency in the world right now. So investor confidence and sentiments are now positive,” he said.
He noted that the new administration’s focus was economic growth fuelled by local businesses.
“The President, as we already know has spoken a lot, including at his inauguration ceremony about the importance of growing Zambia’s economy and ensuring that that growth is fueled first and foremost from within so that it can encourage Zambian businesses and Zambians themselves to realize their ambition and grow their economy through expansion of businesses and trade and investment as well so that wealth is distributed. The President spoke again at the inauguration ceremony about the importance of every Zambian having three square meals and no one going to bed hungry. So, it’s an important thing first and foremost around the focus on the economy as the driver for the employment, the growth, opportunities for the youth but ensuring as well that that growth is spread evenly and is of benefit to all Zambians,” said High Commissioner Woolley.
And in an interview, Dr Ng’andu declined to comment Dr Musokotwane’s plans for the finance ministry, saying he wanted to give his successor a chance to settle in his office.
“I don’t want to start throwing bricks at him before he settles in is job. I want to give him a chance to settle then I can comment on what he is doing. Its too early for me to pass judgement on what he is saying. I want to give him the breathing space he needs then when the right time comes, I will throw bricks at him, but right now is too early, I just want to be fair to him and give him a chance,” said Dr Ng’andu.