Austerity measures a sham, govt will continue with reckless spending – Kambwili

National Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili says the PF has a rare disease of making pronouncements and failing to implement them.

Last week, government, through the Ministry of Finance, asked all project implementing ministries to stop bombarding the Treasury with requests for funding of activities until the country’s debt stock was brought back to “moderate levels”.

This was according to a circular dated July 3, 2019, addressed to the all Permanent Secretaries, all heads of departments, the Auditor General, the Principal Private Secretary at State house and the Senior Private Secretary at the Office of the Vice-President.

Commenting on this in an interview, Kambwili said the PF had a rare disease of making pronouncements and failing to implement them.

“It is very difficult for us to believe what that internal memo is stating because PF had said they had put up austerity measures, but they are still commissioning projects! Where is the money coming from? We have heard that kind of directive before. Government has continued spending, it has never stopped. Just yesterday, the President (Edgar Lungu) was saying austerity measures does not affect him, and the fact that they have said all projects involving concessional loans should not continue; there is no way you can have austerity measures selecting which areas should not be affected. What I am saying is that, that memo is just keeping up appearances; it’s a smoke screen! There is absolutely nothing that is going to happen. They are not going to follow that!” Kambwili said.

“They are financially undisciplined! Everywhere they go, they say: ‘we will come and build a clinic for you’. [Minister of Health Chitalu] Chilufya is going round when there are austerity measures, breaking grounds for the construction of hospitals. But they said that any project below 80 per cent will not be funded, but they are starting projects at zero per cent. So, where is the financial discipline? They suffer from a rare disease where what they pronounce is not commensurate with their actions and I feel sorry for them.”

And Kambwili, the former Roan PF member of parliament, projected a high cost of living.

“People’s salaries will be stagnant and commodities will go up as a result of the Treasury not having money. There will be an increase of poverty levels, even among the working class. They have failed to manage the resources of the country because of over-borrowing. People will suffer! Most of the local contractors and suppliers are small-scale and they don’t have access to financing,” said Kambwili.

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