ADD president Charles Milupi says the fiscal policy measures recently announced by government are just window dressing, meant to deceive the donor community.
And Milupi says he doesn’t see government sticking to the guidelines due to lack of leadership at the top.
On Thursday, Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe issued a statement stating that the Head of State had ordered cancellation of some existing loans, banned the issuance of of letters of credit and guarantees to state owned enterprises, terminated financing of development project that were below 80 per cent completion and cut down on ministerial travels with immediate effect.
Mwanakatwe also emphasized that nobody else was mandated by law to sign any form of loan agreement on behalf of the Republic but herself and further banned all government officials from making public statements on economic matters and debt contraction, going forward.
Commenting on the directives in an interview, Milupi said it was not out of prudent economic management that government was attempting to put in place fiscal measures but out of desperation because donors were now refusing to lend them money.
“The point is, the country has over borrowed. The money that is borrowed cannot be accounted for. The projects that this money has been used for have been unevenly distributed for the country. Favoured regions have got the lions shares. This government’s insatiable appetite for borrowing has not been quenched because this is what provides the corrupt money that they are using to buy properties in foreign countries, Swaziland, South Africa. What has happened now, because of the mismanagement that’s happening, the economy is shrinking. We cannot raise sufficient funds within the economy itself, they have continued to seek to borrow outside. But because of the unsustainable nature of our debt, the outside [community] is now refusing to lend the money,” Milupi said.
“It is not out of prudent economic management that the minister’s statement has come out. It’s because of the desperation that has resulted from IMF, World Bank, bilateral institutions, multi lateral institutions and bilateral donors saying enough is enough. So because of this, they are now forced against their own will to attempt to put in fiscal measures to save money.”
And Milupi said he didn’t see government sticking to the guidelines due to lack of leadership at the top.
“I don’t see them implementing even their own plan. When they are banning ministers from traveling, banning the completion of projects that are less than 80 percent complete and all these things, they will not be done. Because we don’t have leadership at the top to drive this process. The favoured ministers will continue to implement projects where they can get their corrupt money so we will not see that happening. The President himself, the top man, is out of the country to Kenya. For a meeting that is totally unannounced, we don’t know what he has gone there for, what is so critical in Kenya now for the President to go there,” he said.
Milupi observed that if Zambia had a serious government, President Lungu would have led the fight to recover stolen money.
“If we had a serious government, in an addition to the report or the statement from ministry of finance, we would have seen the President lead the fight to recover the money that is obviously stolen. The FIC report and other reports clearly indicates the people who have looted the treasury and been involved in massive corruption. But what we are seen instead is the President actually being angry that the report points to his ministers, his officials, lawyers, getting involved in alll manner of things. There is no hope that even the measures that Margaret Mwanakatwe is talking about will be implemented because those measures even though they are necessary, they go counter to the DNA of this government and the PF. Their DNA is about looting,” said Milupi.
“During the Mwanawasa days, when the IMF came in with those austerity measures it was possible to put them because we had a government that was determined to have rule of law to implement those measures. They were also determined to recover money that was looted by the previous administration, this government is not. Because they are the ones who have looted so they can’t recover. So this is just the window dressing to hoodwink the donor community that they are doing something.”