FINANCE Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu says he is not aware that Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Malanji wrote to the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia asking him to expedite the disbursement of a loan to facilitate the speedy implementation of FTJ University in Mansa.
In his letter to the Chinese Embassy dated, April 21, 2020, Malanji explained that the FTJ project was very important and was among the loans that had been approved despite the country’s dire financial situation.
“As you may be aware, the Zambian government has cancelled or re-scoped all externally financed infrastructure loan projects as a measure to restore the country’s debt to sustainable levels. However, the government has decided to proceed to implement the FTJ Chiluba University project in Mansa and Kasama as per original scope of the project. This decision was made because the construction of the FTJ University is an important project as it has several benefits to the nation because of its strategic location and catchment,” read the letter in part.
“Further, government has already fulfilled all the requirements for disbursement of the loan, including the disbursement of 15 per cent of the total contract sum to the contractor. These resources would be lost to government and the people of the two provinces if this project does not proceed as planned.”
But in a brief interview, Dr Ng’andu could not shed more light on the development, saying he did not know anything concerning the letter.
“I don’t know anything about that. He is coming to see me this (Tuesday) afternoon so he will probably tell me about it, but I don’t seem to be aware of that,” said Dr Ng’andu.
According to Ministry of Higher Education records, the US $255 million contract for the design and construction contract was awarded to China Energy Engineering Group to construct the FTJ Mansa and FTJ Kasama universities.
Zambia’s current external debt stock was US $11.2 billion as at February, 2020, the highest on record so far.