Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe says government remains committed to servicing debt so as to reduce Zambia’s indebtedness and ensure fiscal sustainability.

And Mwanakatwe says for the first time in a long time, government has released Constituency Development Funds on time.

Announcing November 2018 budget releases in a statement issued by ministry spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta, Monday, Mwanakatwe revealed that K943 million was released to service both internal and external debt.

“In November, 2018, the Ministry of Finance released a total of K4.8 Billion to finance public service operations and sustain service delivery. Of this amount, K943 million was funded to service both the domestic and external debt; K940 million went towards grants to various institutions; K1 billion was released to finance various government projects, programmes and general operations; and, K1.9 billion went towards the public service wage bill. The Treasury also released a total of K169.3 million as Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in November 2018, to support various community-based projects in all constituencies,” read the statement.

“Of the K4.8 billion total funding for November 2018, releases for capital expenditure totalled K422.9 million, of which K193.2 million was for payment towards continued works and completion of road projects across the country, K10.6 million went towards the Rural Electrification Programme, and K49.8 million for other capital expenditure programmes across the nation…In order to continue reducing the country’s indebtedness and ensure fiscal sustainability as projected in the Economic Stabilisation and Growth Programme [ESGP] and the Medium Term Debt Strategy [MTDS], the Government released a sum of K942 million in November 2018 for payments towards both domestic and external debt obligations. This is a practice to which the Ministry remains committed.”

And Mwanakatwe said for the first time in a long time, government has released Constituency Development Funds on time.

“Mrs. Mwanakatwe has also indicated that this is first time in a long-time that the Treasury has not lagged behind in releasing resources for the Constituency Development Fund [CDF]. She added that as soon as the 2019 National Budget is approved, Members of Parliament, in collaboration with other stakeholders in their jurisdictions, will have an opportunity to focus on community initiatives using the released CDF resources,” read the statement.

The Treasury also released K458.7 million towards the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), of which some of the funds were channeled towards clearing outstanding bills under the programme.

“With regard to support for agriculture development, the Treasury released a sum of K458.7 million towards the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). This is to cater for the speedy implementation of the FISP programme during the current 2018/2019 farming season, through both the e-Voucher and the direct redeeming programme windows,” read the statement.

“For the purpose of clarity, the Ministry of Finance wishes to state that some of the funds from the K458.7 million were allocated to the process of dismantling outstanding bills under the FISP programme. The total amount released towards the FISP programme now stands at K1.74 billion from January 2018 to end November, 2018. The Food Reserve Agency also received K50 million in November 2018 to liquidate some outstanding bills and to procure maize and other grains in accordance with state stipulations for strategic reserve requirements.”

According to the statement, K379.3 million in total was released for dismantling debt relating to goods and services procured by various ministries and spending agencies.

“Further, a sum of K46.1 million was released to liquidate outstanding liabilities related to the consumption of goods and services by various line Ministries, Provinces and Spending Agencies. This brings the total amount released in 2018 for dismantling arrears to K379.3 million. The Treasury further released K142 million to support the activities and operations of various central government institutions. Of this amount K50 million went towards the procurement of drugs and medical supplies in public health institutions. In addition, public grants for supporting the operations of various public institutions such as hospitals and other medical institutions amounted to K60.6 million, while universities and schools country-wide got K116.3 million,” read the statement.

“In order to achieve the timely payment of November salaries for various public service workers, including teaching, medical and security personnel, the Government spent a total of K1.9 billion on the Public Service Wage Bill (Personal Emoluments). The Zambia Revenue Authority received K66.2 million during the month under review to ensure that the strengthened domestic resource mobilisation drive remains on course. K89.9 million went towards supporting the operations of local authorities across the country through the Local Government Equalisation Fund (LGEF) and a further K180.5 million was released in November 2018 to support the operations of other public entities and quasi-governmental organisations.”

Mwanakatwe noted that reforms related to the removal of consumption subsidies and austerity measures which government had implemented were now bearing fruit as seen by the timely releases of funds to productive sectors such as agriculture and to social sectors such as education, health, and public welfare.

She called on Ministries, Provinces and other Controlling Bodies to remain instrumental in actualizing President Edgar Lungu’s vision of developing the country without leaving anyone behind by ensuring that there is prudence in the management and utilization of public resources at all times.