The Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) has advised government to think outside the box this year as it seeks to enhance domestic resource mobilization, explore other possibilities and harness the country’s natural resources.

And PMRC has projected that Zambia’s economy will grow by four per cent this year owing to improved performance of various sectors such as construction.

In a statement, PMRC Executive Director Bernadette Deka Zulu said the country needs to look at various innovative possibilities that would promote revenue generation, and that such possibilities range from the Mukula tree programme and emeralds sub-sector, to fisheries, among others.

“This year, we need to explore possibilities and harness our resources for the growth of our economy. The adage: ‘thinking outside the box’ should be the anchor of our policy alternatives, especially as we seek to enhance domestic resources mobilization. We need to look at various innovative possibilities that will promote revenue generation for the country. Such possibilities range from: the Mukula tree programme, emerald sub-sector and the fisheries sub-sector, among others. If well-harnessed, these sub-sectors could yield substantial revenue for the treasury,” Zulu observed.

“Further, in view of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, (AFCFTA) which will come into effect, Zambia needs to develop a strategy that will ensure that the country benefits immensely from trading under the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA). This will call for growth of the manufacturing sector and revamping of selected viable industries to promote value-addition that we have spoken about for sometime. We need, as a country, to be very competitive and planning starts now.”

PMRC also projected a four per cent economic growth for Zambia this year.

“This year, Zambia has an opportunity to build on the positive economic trajectories that were recorded in 2018, which led to inflation being maintained at single digit and the kwacha maintaining strength against other major currencies. The economic outlook of this year looks positive and we expect growth of above 4 per cent due to improved performance in sectors, such as construction, among others,” Zulu added.

And she urged the implementation agencies involved with the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) to expedite efforts this year to ensure that the programmes under the Plan were speedily implemented.

“In this year, 2019, the 7NDP will enter its 3rd year of operation. We have been closely monitoring the implementation progress of the 7NDP, but our call is for all implementation agencies to expedite efforts this year to ensure that the programmes in the Plan are speedily implemented. We expect to see a reduction in developmental inequalities and also a reduction in incidences of poverty and vulnerability because majority of the policy decisions that had been implemented in 2018 will bear fruit this year,” Zulu predicted.

Meanwhile, Zulu also urged government to formulate a strategy and technical working groups in order to ensure that everyone benefited from the initiatives under the US $60 billion granted by China during last year’s Forum on China – Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

“The 2018 Forum on China – Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) committed US $60 billion towards Africa under 8 initiatives as follows: Industrial Promotion Initiative; Infrastructure Connectivity Initiative; Trade Facilitation Initiative; Green Development Initiative; Capacity-Building Initiative; Health Care Initiative; People-to-People Exchange Initiative; and Peace and Security Initiative (China-Africa peace and security fund). Zambia, therefore, needs to formulate a strategy and technical working groups in order to benefit from these initiatives. Preparations should commence now and thus within the framework of FOCAC; Zambia can align some of these initiatives to our development efforts under the 7ND,” stated Zulu.

“Further, government should this year continue to pursue the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout deal. We have been submitting to government to pursue the IMF bailout programme for balance of payments support for as long as the bailout terms and conditions are favourable to all Zambians by consolidating growth. As a matter of fact, The IMF presents affordable finance and is significantly more affordable than commercial borrowing from domestic and international markets and, thus, PMRC encourages the government to continue pursuing an IMF package that compliments our homegrown Economic Stabilization and Growth Programme (ESGP).”