Liuwa UPND member of parliament Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane has lamented that the strenuous debt repayment schedule is affecting developmental projects all because the Patriotic Front was contracting loans as if they were picking fruits in a forest.
Debating the Supplementary estimates No 1 of 2018 in Parliament, Tuesday, Dr Msokotwane observed that government had to increase its budgetary allocation for debt repayment to the Exim Bank of China at the expense of releasing Constituency Development Fund.
“On page 40, debt management to non Paris Club, specifically to the Exim Bank of China. The budget was K1.24 billion and now we are proposing to increase that by K897 million. Why? Because we are busy collecting debt like we are just picking fruits from the forest. On the next page, interest payments on treasury bills. The original amount was K2.8 billion and now we are proposing to increase that by K1.7 billion because again, we are busy collecting debt from everywhere. Loan amortization, original amount was K208.4 million, we are proposing to increase that by K90 million. So, Mr Speaker, it is not surprising at all if the Minister of Finance is struggling to give us the CDF that we so desperately need because the government is busy borrowing money from everywhere, trillions of Kwacha in extra payment of debt service that we have to make. This is what is causing the government to fail to give us CDF, there is no other explanation. I think it is devastating. So on account of this, as for me, I am sorry to my friend and colleague over there, given that you are failing to give us money for CDF…I am sorry, this supplementary thing does not make sense so I reject it,” Dr Msokotwane said.
“I want to express disappointment that despite then assurance that we were given last time when we were in the House that the 50 per cent of the CDF that was not released in 2017 would be released this year, and I was looking forward to seeing that in the Yellow Book supplement and there is nothing. And colleagues on the right, I think we are all members of parliament, if resources are not being provided, it is the people that we represent that are going to suffer. I think we should make that demand that the money be given to us because if we don’t, we are failing in our duties as a people.”
He lamented that she of the money being proposed for supplementation was on induced activities like by-elections.
“Some of the money that is being proposed for supplementation here is on activities that are induced, the by-elections, it is very sad. Now I want to draw your attention to some of the pages in this document where proposals are made about which budget lines are to be increased. Let me go to the major items starting with page 32 of the document. On page 32, there is a proposal under infrastructure development, construction of stately infrastructure, whatever that means. The initial proposal was K2 million, now we are proposing to put K452.6 million. Mr Speaker, what is this stately expenditure that denies us the CDF to give to the common man and we are proposing to spend K452 million on stately infrastructure, whether this is the new State House, we don’t know, maybe the minister must explain what it is but for me, this is really very sad,” said Dr Msokotwane.
“On page 37, this is under Zambia Security Services, Office of the President, special branch. The proposal for the year was K51 million, we are proposing to increase it by K122 million again at a point when we are failing to construct classrooms, we are failing to complete clinics, we are failing to buy chalk but we want to out money to an institution that we know primarily serves the government, sometimes to torment members of the opposition. On Page 39, agricultural department, construction of silos, these being for food, I am hesitant to say much about this but still, when we deny CDF but we are proposing these huge amounts of money, just below that there is input support, the original amount was K1.75 million, we are proposing to increase by K700 million, I am a but hamstrung again to criticize this given that most of the beneficiaries are the rural people that we represent. Now this is where I come to the issue that we have been talking about all this time. These loans that we are so busy acquiring. The limitless thirst for debt, see now what is happening, see what they are causing to this country.”