INTERNATIONAL trade economist Trevor Simumba says President Hakainde Hichilema should use his address to Parliament on Friday to inform citizens of Zambia’s actual debt figures.
Last week, Finance Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane said some reports he had received indicated that the PF government had acquired new debt even during the campaign period.
However, former Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu described sentiments by the UPND government that there was hidden debt as nonsense and meaningless.
And in an interview, Simumba called on Dr Musokotwane to produce the last Debt Sustainability Analysis, with an update on the debt acquired between the dissolution of Parliament and elections.
“The Minister of Finance should simply produce the last Debt Sustainability Analysis that was done with an update on the borrowing done between the dissolution of Parliament and elections. Simple. Arguing about it as it is being done is totally unprofessional and a waste of time. Bank of Zambia and the Ministry of Finance have all the numbers,” Simumba said.
“Let them simply publish those numbers which the PF has been hiding since 2018. The last published DSA was in 2018. Remember even when I published my research on Chinese debt in 2018, they similarly refused but today they have acknowledged that China is now the number one Bilateral creditor to Zambia! So simply put, let the Minister provide these figures to the President and to the public.”
Simumba further called for transparency in debt management and a stronger oversight role for Parliament.
“Zambia is in a serious fiscal and debt crisis. To be wasting time debating numbers solves no problem. The President has an opportunity on September 10 to put this issue to bed by including the actual debt figures he has found in his opening speech to Parliament. More importantly, we need to hear what his policies and plans are to resolve this issue because it will not go away by magic,” said Simumba.
“For me, one thing I am looking for is transparency in debt management and a stronger oversight role for Parliament to ensure we never go back to debt default. We also need to put in place a robust public investment management strategy and ensure projects that government funds are effectively implemented with value for money principles in place.”