GERMAN Ambassador to Zambia Anne Wagner-Mitchell says analysing and strategically addressing the root causes of Zambia’s debt, governance crisis and enduring poverty and inequality must be the starting point for the forthcoming 8th National Development Plan implementation.

And Acting Secretary to Cabinet Dr Patrick Kangwa says the progress made so far in realising Zambia’s aspirations, contained in its vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle-income nation, is insufficient.

Meanwhile, Civil Society for Poverty Reduction Executive Director Faides TembaTemba has commended government for its inclusive approach in development the 8NDP.

At the occasion of the National Development Coordinating Committee (NDCC) meeting on the validation of the 8NDP, Monday, Ambassador Wagner-Mitchell observed that debt was a major constraint for the implementation 8NDP.

“Analyzing and strategically addressing the root causes for Zambia’s debt and governance crisis as well as enduring poverty and inequality must be the starting point for the 8NDP implementation. In that respect, the risk management section of the plan is an important innovation and hopefully will become an effective tool to address misuse of funds. The debt burden build up during the 7NDP now severely limits the fiscal and policy space and is a major constraint for the 8NDP implementation. We welcome therefore that GRZ considers debt restructuring and an agreement with the IMF as the key anchor for the 8NDP reform agenda,” she said.

“The recent statement by the honorable Minister of Finance to parliament also rightly underlined this point. It will be important to be transparent about the process and to align the macroeconomics framework agreed with the IMF with the medium term expenditure framework and the NDP. Similarly, the emphasis on restoring budget credibility through improved public finance management will go a long way in addressing past implementation weaknesses.”

And Ambassador Wagner-Mitchell said it was the German government’s hope that the government of Zambia could turn the 8NDP into a tool for delivery on its reform agenda.

“It is our hope that government can turn the 8th NDP into a tool for delivery on its reform agenda. To this end, it will be essential to have the NDP implementation plan developed at the earliest possible time with clear timelines on targets. This is of key importance as the results framework of the plan will ultimately determine what results are funded, monitored and effectively coordinated. Cooperating partners are committed to support the implementation of the 8NDP and the government’s reform agenda. The four core areas of the plan align very well with the support cooperating partners currently provide and we can work together to align our support even more closely,” she said.

And in his keynote speech, Dr Kangwa said the progress made so far in realising the country’s aspirations of becoming a prosperous middle-income nation was insufficient.

“We are all aware that each national development plan developed since 2006 has been a building block towards the attainment of our vision aspiration of becoming a prosperous middle-income country by the year 2030. Strides have been made towards achieving the socio-economic development targets set forth in the vision despite lagging behind on most of them. It is interesting to note that the 8NDP will be the second from last plan to be implemented before we reach the year 2030. This milestone makes our collective efforts all the more necessary given the limited time that we have left to realise the vision,” he said.

“As earlier alluded to, progress made so far has been insufficient to enable the country realise the aspirations contained in our vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle-income nation. We are not quite there when we consider the multidimensional poverty index which in 2018 was estimated at 44 percent. This implies, therefore, that near to almost half of the Zambians were facing deprivations in the very basic of needs that entail a decent standard of living, health services, education opportunities and other essentials such as access to clean water and electricity. Further, unemployment as of 2020 was estimated 13.8 percent as of 2020, with youth unemployment even higher at 19.9 percent.”

He said the 8NDP proposed four strategic development areas to be pursued in the next five years.

“The 8NDP proposes the following four strategic development areas to be pursued in the next five years: Economic transformation and job creation. Under this strategic development area, the aim is to transform the economy through increased trade and investments in mining, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, catalysed by the key enabling sectors of energy, technology, transport and logistics, and water development infrastructure. Human and social development, the focus of this strategic development area will be to create a healthy and skilled labour force which will propel Zambia towards a thriving and industrialised economy as espoused in the vision 2030. To do this we need to change our current trajectory as a country,” said Dr Kangwa.

“Environmental sustainability as we pursue our economic transformation agenda it is imperative that development pathways are sustainable. This, therefore, means that we must sustainably utilise our natural resources which are the basis for wealth creation as well as building resilience to the adverse effects of climate change. Good governance environment, this strategic development area relates to creating a conducive environment which is characterised by participation, rule of law, transparency, accountability, consensus, responsiveness, equity, inclusiveness, effectiveness and efficiency. In this regard the focus will be on improving the policy and governance environment that will allow each citizen to be free, as well as promoting adherence to the rule of law and constitutionalism.”

Speaking at the same event, an NDCC member, who is also an economics lecturer the the University of Zambia, said the K1 trillion kwacha which government had proposed to spend on the 8NDP was not enough.

“K1 trillion is what government has proposed to spend. Not a lot of money, but still significant in terms of delivering the development that we need. It works out roughly to over $640 per Capita. So again, it is significant but not really too much money in terms of where we are at this point in time. As I have just said, the plan is not simply a set of all our wishes and dreams but clearly, there is a focus on what has been identified as the critical sectors that have thwarted our development agenda in the past,” he said

Meanwhile, TembaTemba commended government for its inclusive approach in development of the 8NDP, adding that CSOs expected to see systems of accountability and inclusiveness being aligned to the budgetary allocations.

“What we are saying as civil society organisations is that we want to see systems of accountability and inclusiveness been aligned to the budgetary allocations but also most importantly, we want to see inclusion of disability and inclusion of gender mainstreaming and women economic empowerment in the 8th national development plan. We have also noticed that we needed to have clear accountability mechanisms around housing and infrastructure systems that civil society organizations are recommending in the 8th national development plan. We are therefore as civil society organisations saying that we are ready to work with the government of the day and just to ensure that all the recommendations of the 8th national development plan but most importantly the accountability aspect are actually enhanced and reinforced by government,” said TembaTemba.