FORMER finance minister Ng’andu Magande says it is justifiable for government to acquire a soft loan for building schools because young people need to be educated.

Finance Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane recently announced that government had acquired a loan from the World Bank meant to build high schools in provinces which were previously neglected.

Commenting on this in an interview, Magande said the loan was okay because it had a long repayment period.

“The government promised schools, so if they don’t build how do you get free education? We have no choice, if you have got somebody who can give you a soft loan, that is okay. IDA is the International Development Association, the soft window of the World Bank, from which Zambia has borrowed. 10 years of not paying those are the conditions. And then after that, you have another 30 years of not paying, so that is very soft. It means while we struggle with your Eurobond, that loan will not be payable. If the loan is obtained now, for the next few years you will not pay, that is the grace period. So that loan is payable within 40 years. It is justifiable because it is going to be used to build secondary schools because you want to have as many young people going to school,” said Magande.

“The other government was not telling us how much we owed, we just heard that ‘no, we got money for a road’ we don’t know which road. This is what the constitution says that the government will explain what the loans are being gotten for. And they mentioned provinces which are going to benefit.”

Responding to questions in parliament after presenting a ministerial statement last week, Dr Musokotwane the UPND government would also borrow.

“The UPND government will borrow money. As we stand now, we are negotiating for a loan and I think it is actually signed. This loan is to construct high schools. Madam Speaker, I say so with a very clear conscience in my mind because to borrow money so that high schools are constructed, actually this loan, the first part was incurred by the previous government. In that loan from the World Bank, three provinces were completely left out which were Western, North Western and Copperbelt Provinces,” said Dr Musokotwane.

“So the loan that we have signed, part of it is to say that our colleagues used to choose who to fund and who to reject. In this House, they would say without leaving anyone behind but when in reality they were leaving some people behind. This loan that we are acquiring now is to make sure that those that were left behind will also be uplifted. I have no shame or apologies to make about this because if it was a loan to buy handcuffs or teargas, I would say no.”