Newly appointed Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu says he will he see how best to implement the austerity measures in order to restore the fiscal health of the economy.
And Dr Ng’andu says he will also see how prudent it will be to implement a new tax regime like the Sales Tax three quarters into a fiscal year.
Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu has urged Dr Ng’andu to stabilize the economy by ensuring that he amortizes debt and coordinates financial activities for different government ministries and their related entities.
Speaking to journalists shortly after being sworn in, Dr Nga’ndu said he would do what was necessary to restore the economy.
“[Slowing down on] debt contraction is one of the things that she (Margaret Mwanakatwe) announced. She also announced the need to put on hold projects that have not reached at a certain level in implementation. So I think my task will be to look at those measures and ensure that we implement, because it is absolutely necessary to ensure that we restore fiscal health of the economy. [And] one we do that we will be able to deal with the issues that we have currently and it will also help to put a bit more liquidity in the economy,” Dr Ng’andu said.
And Dr Ng’andu said he would also see how prudent it would be to implement a new tax regime like Sales Tax three quarters into a fiscal year.
“The issue about Sales Tax is something that we need to look at as to whether it will be prudent for us to implement a new regime three quarters into a fiscal year. In terms of the IMF programme, I think there is need for us to engage constructively with the IMF and get and get to understand which of the programmes we can implement. But there are things on our side that we need to do. And what I was talking about in terms of fiscal means that we need to do, fiscal health is part of what we need to do on our side that we need to do. But I will be quite keen to get us stocking and see whether we can get the programme.”
When asked if he expected the appointment, Dr Ng’andu said he thought someone was playing a prank on him when President Lungu called him.
“Not at all. I was getting ready to go to church in the morning yesterday and I got a phone call and somebody said ‘hello this is President Lungu.’ I thought somebody was playing a prank on me and I listened carefully and he sounded like him and said he wanted to see me. So I rushed here (State House),” said Dr Ng’andu, who is Zambia’s third finance minister in three years.
Meanwhile, President Lungu asked Dr Ng’andu to stabilize the economy.
“Your many years at the central bank has given you practical insights into our country’s economic landscape. Therefore, your new assignment requires you to work with many teams from both government and cooperating partners. Given your experience in matters of economic management, I have no doubt that you are well able and equal to the task. My expectations from you is to ensure you amortize debt and coordinate financial activities for the different ministries and their related entities. You must ensure stability of our economy,” said President Lungu.