MINISTER of Finance and National Planning Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane says debt resolution is one of the important tasks in the forthcoming 8th National Development Plan.

And Dr Musokotwane says government is progressing well with the IMF deal, contrary to reports on various social media platforms that the IMF has declined to give Zambia a plan.

Meanwhile, Dr Musokotwane says those who claim that UPND has no plan for reviving the economy are saying so out of lack of understanding.

Giving a ministerial statement, Wednesday, Dr Musokotwane said government had raced ahead to implement programmes that would help the country to get out of the debt crisis.

“Even before the 8NDP is fully prepared, everyone accepts that the problem of excessive indebtedness must be resolved if Zambia will have a chance to improve her economy. It is therefore a given that debt resolution must be an important part of the 8NDP. If anything it is one of the most important tasks in the next development plan. Arising from the reality above, the government has raced ahead to implement programmes that will make the country to get out of the debt crisis. In other words, one of the most critical aspects of the 8NDP is already being implemented even before the plan is officially launched,” he said.

And Dr Musokotwane said government was currently facilitating the review and validation of the 8NDP, which he says is at the draft stage, before submitting it to Cabinet for final approval.

“The development of the 8NDP has reached an advanced stage with a draft now in place. The draft is based on the strategic policy direction provided by His Excellency Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, the President of the Republic of Zambia as highlighted in his speech delivered on 10th September 2021 during the opening of the First Session of the Thirteenth National Assembly. In order to ensure that the interventions in the 8NDP are responsive to the development needs of the country and its people, the Government is currently facilitating the review and validation of the draft plan by stakeholders, before submitting it to Cabinet for final approval. Thereafter, I will bring it to this August House for approval. As I indicated already, the 8NDP will be the basis for the development of all medium-term and annual budgets for the period 2022 to 2026,” he said.

Dr Musokotwane explained that the draft consists of submissions from stakeholders from across the country and that its delay was due to the fact that it was not completed on time.

“The draft reflects submissions made during countrywide consultations as outlined earlier. The submissions came mainly through the District Development Coordinating Committees (DDCCs), Provincial Development Coordinating Committees (PDCCs), Cluster Advisory Groups (CAGs) and the National Development Coordinating Committee (NDCC). Following the consultative processes, convergence was reached to have four strategic development themes for the 8NDP, namely: Economic Transformation and Job Creation; Human Development; Environmental Sustainability; and Good Governance Environment,” he said.

“It is important to note that there has been a small gap of time between the end of the 7NDP and the start of the 8NDP. This has been caused by the fact that when the 7NDP came to an end at the end of 2021, the successor 8NDP had not yet been prepared. This then raises the question regarding the development agenda which the government has been implementing during the intervening period which runs from January 2022 to the time when the 8NDP will be launched. This could cover a period not exceeding six months. This matter has been addressed as follows. Firstly, we have to recognize that Zambia now faces a very serious external debt crisis. This crisis has been responsible for most of the undesirable economic developments we have seen in recent years such as the drop in the value of the Kwacha, rising inflation, loss of formal sector jobs and lack of sufficient money to invest in social sectors like hiring of teachers, health workers and others.”

Dr Musokotwane said decentralization would be an important aspect of the 8NDP.

The Finance Minister added that those who claim that UPND had no plan for reviving the Zambian economy were saying so out of lack of understanding.

“Decentralization will be an important aspect of the 8NDP. This approach will ensure that people will own their development agenda. The people including those from wards, districts and provinces have provided input into the draft 8NDP. In the same vein once the plan is approved each province and district will be required to formulate implementation plans which will provide details in relation to the specific interventions that relate to the needs and comparative advantage of each locality. The increased Constituency Development Fund (CDF) starting from 2022 will fund most of the interventions that will be identified at local levels,” he said.

“It is a well-known fact that some important aspirations in the 7NDP were either partially realized or not realized at all. But many of those remain paramount and will definitely therefore be part of the 8NDP and beyond. Examples include hiring of teachers and health workers, building classrooms, health facilities, fixing feeder roads, providing clean water, creating job opportunities, etc. For these items, government has gone ahead to implement them even without waiting for the formal launch of the 8NDP. In doing so the government has actually leaped ahead to implement important aspects of the forthcoming 8NDP. From the explanation just provided you will realize Madam Speaker that those who claim that UPND has no plan for reviving the Zambian economy are saying so out of lack of understanding.”

Dr Musokotwane said the first installment of the CDF would be released at the end of this month.

And responding to Matero PF Member of Parliament Miles Sampa who wanted to find out if it was true that the IMF had declined to give the new dawn government a plan, the Finance Minister said the same was not true.

“It is all over in the media that the IMF declined to give Zambia a plan in the same manner that they refused to give Zambia a plan under the PF government from 2016 to 2021 for five years. That social media that you are quoting is obviously generated by people from the PF because there is no single grain in the truth about it, it is totally false, fake news. We are progressing very well with IMF and I can assure you without any doubt that the programme is going to go through by the middle of this year without any problems because we are managing things properly and cooperating partners are appreciating what we are doing. So, Madam Speaker, and my colleague there just be assured, be calm, be comforted the IMF programme is coming without any doubt whatsoever,” said Dr Musokotwane.

“The national vision for Zambia was already formulated in 2006. In the vision, Zambia will become a prosperous middle-income nation by 2030. Examples of middle (upper) income countries include Algeria, South Africa, Malaysia, Brazil, Thailand, Mauritius and many others. In broad terms, this means that by 2030 the average Zambian would be enjoying the same quality of life enjoyed today by residents of the countries mentioned above. Provided there is not much inequity in the country that would entail decent living with better incomes and good access to social services than is the case today.”