FOREIGN Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Stanley Kakubo has assured the country that no new debt was acquired during President Hakainde Hichilema’s trip to the United States of America.

Speaking in Parliament, Friday, Kakubo said President Hichilema only secured a $30 million grant meant for the COVID-19 fight and other sectors.

“I want to assure the country that President Hakainde Hichilema did not secure any debt on behalf of the country. The $30 million that I alluded to were grants from USAID and distributed in the following fashion: (1) $18.5 million to support Zambia’s fight against COVID-19; (2) $1 million towards electrification of rural health centres across the country; (3) $7.5 million support towards democratic governance in local government, media, domestic resource mobilisation and improvement of our tax administration,” Kakubo said.

“The pledges that the President has accrued for us including the $1 million are with immediate effect, those funds will be coming to Zambia very soon. As a way of comfort, I want to assure the members that these grants and their fundings are coming with immediate effect.”

He said President Hichilema only travelled with a small delegation of 17 people, unlike what used to happen in the past.

“We have records in the Ministry that show that previous trips to the UN had Zambia delegations in excess of over 100 individuals traveling. As though that was not enough, about 80 percent of the delegation Madam Speaker would travel a month in advance as an advance party. All this was done at taxpayers expense with allowances being paid. To the contrary, President Hichilema directed a small delegation, only 17 people travelled. Previously what we would see, the previous government carried about six or eight ministers. President Hichilema only carried the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Finance. Further to that, the advance party left a day before and not a month,” Kakubo said.

“The President was able to obtain pledges for technical support on issues of governance and improving our governance structure as a country. Because of the President’s visit, Madam Speaker, there has been renewed interest in trade and investment in Zambia. The President’s visit to the US has been a resounding success.”

Kakubo said there was need to scale up COVID-19 vaccines to ensure that the country was removed from the red list countries.

“Madam Speaker, there is need for us to scale up vaccination levels, three percent is not enough. The target is that by the second quarter of 2022, we need to be moving towards 70 percent. It is important for us to be removed from the red list to foster trade and also to encourage tourists to come into our country. I want to assure the members that the new dawn government is not operating in silos no. We are one government and all Ministries are speaking to each other. As Foreign Minister, everything that happens outside the country, all negotiations are communicated efficiently to the relevant Ministry concerned,” said Kakubo.