BRITISH High Commission development director Steve Beel says it is important for the newly-elected UPND government to regain the trust which had been lost in recent years.

And Beel says conversations with the Zambian government on how the UK can best support the social cash transfer programme will be a high priority.

In an interview, Beel said enhancing transparency and accountability was the best way to regain trust.

“I think to be fair to the ministries, there was actually quite a lot of work done under the previous government about strengthening systems, making it more transparent. I think moving to more digital ways of transferring cash is also important. I know that with ourselves, the World Bank, the UN, I think there is now a good system in place, it still needs strengthening. Transparency, accountability and, actually, I think trust in the system is really important. I think we would certainly be happy with those others to make sure that the Zambian people trust the system, which I think is really important. A lot of trust has obviously been reduced in recent years, but I think it is important we get that back,” Beel said.

And Beel said the UK wanted to understand the new Zambian government’s ambitions regarding the social cash transfer programme.

“Social protection generally in the social cash transfer system is something that we consider to be a very high priority in terms of supporting human development and poverty economic reduction in Zambia. UK funding actually goes through a number of different avenues and obviously, we make significant contributions to the IMF and the World Bank and other international organisations. Whether we are contributing money directly or we are doing it through these other avenues, we certainly think that through conversations that are going to happen quickly with the IMF, we want to make sure that the social cash transfer programme is considered as a high priority,” said Beel.

“We will want to understand from the government what their own ambitions are with the social cash transfer programme. They said some things during the campaign which were very positive. We will want to engage them on that, then make sure that in a combination of their own financing, but also other sources and make sure that the programme is supported. Because we do think it is important, it is arguably the most important mechanism for supporting the most vulnerable.”