Minister of National Development Planning Alexander Chiteme has dispelled concerns that his Ministry is neither here nor there, saying it is anchored under the Office of the President.

And Chiteme says the World Bank has given government US$14 million as a grant to scale-up pilot projects throughout Western Province.

He was responding to concerns from members of parliament when the House considered the 2019 budget for the Ministry of National Development Planning, Wednesday.

“The Office of Ministry of National Development Planning is under the Office of the President. That spells your concerns that this Ministry should be under the Ministry of the Vice-President or anywhere else. The Ministry of National Development Planning, according to the statement that was issued here in the House by President Lungu is that, this Ministry is anchored under the President of Zambia. Therefore, it dispels that connotation where we are going to say that it’s ‘neither here nor there’,” he explained.

“My Ministry is fairly an objective one. I also want to commend Honourable Mwila that said that we have never even been to the (Parliamentary) Public Accounts Committee (PAC). I should also thank you for noting that, but not that it’s something to boast about and yes it’s something to note.”

And he revealed that the World Bank had given government US$14 million as a grant to scale-up pilot projects throughout Western Province

“As I’m speaking, the World Bank has given us US $4 million, not as a loan, but as a grant to scale-up the pilot projects. And this will be spread throughout the Western Province,” Chiteme said.

Meanwhile, Chiteme encouraged opposition members of parliament to cross beyond party lines and visit government ministries.

“I would want to encourage my brothers on the left, that these government ministries are your offices. Can you go and cross beyond party lines and come to the offices of the government. Our President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, is not a President that is going to promote regionalism or tribalism. We are here together, one Zambia, one nation. Because if you came to the government ministries, you were not going to say that the Central Statistical Office (CSO) didn’t provide a quarterly report on labour. Because we have the website as Ministry of National Development Planning, where we make quarterly reports on labour figures and on any other statistics that is available at the Central Statistical Office (CSO),” Chiteme added.

He assured the House that the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) was good because it had been admired by the rest of Africa.

“We can all agree in principle that we need to strengthen national development planning so that it becomes the core of our government and that it takes us forward. Seventh National Development Plan has been disseminated to all provinces and to all districts. The plan has been translated into eight local languages so that it can be understood. And I want to assure you that the plan is good. Why I say so is that the plan has been admired by the whole Africa,” he said.
“As I’m speaking, we have got almost four Africa countries that are willing to come and learn from us; how we do our development planning. Even the Chinese government has seen it wise to even translate our 7NDP into Chinese. That’s why we are calling upon the private sector to say: ‘buy into the 7NDP’ so that we can see that it’s not only government that can enhance development through the 7NDP.”

He encouraged members of parliament to go through the 7NDP, lamenting that most of them had not even read it.

“Each and every member of parliament in this House has got a copy of the 7NDP. I would want to know how many of you have gone past the prefix of the 7NDP. Most of you haven’t read it, you have packed it! What you need to do is to go through that 7NDP because it’s not all about government; it’s about you and me. You and I can do proposals that can buy into the plan,” he said.

Chiteme added that at the right moment, the Planning and Budgeting Bill would be brought to the House.

“The Planning and Budgeting Bill, the President of this Republic listened when we said we needed a separation between the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of National Planning. And that was done. Trust me, that at the right moment, the Planning and Budgeting Bill will be brought to this House, and I will be looking forward to the bright ideas that are going to come from the members of the House, from both sides,” said Chiteme.