FINANCE and National Planning Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane says things are going to be better, assuring that the UPND government has a job creation and economic recovery plan.

Commenting on remarks made by former commerce and trade minister Bob Sichinga that the UPND government had no clear plan on how they were going to create jobs, Dr Musokotwane said in an interview that the government’s first step, in its economic plan, was to deal with the country’s excessive debt.

“Definitely things are going to be better, you know it is not just a matter of having a document ‘yes this is the plan’. PF presided over two development plans which achieved absolutely nothing because, on one hand, they made plans to say something, on the other hand, they were doing things that were totally different. The plan that was there was just to borrow, borrow and put money on useless stuff. So it is not going to be like that this time. Let me say as follows; number one, we said when we come into office we have to deal with the issues of the excess debt. Because with that excess debt, you can have whatever plan you have but it will never be realized because all the money just goes for debt servicing. So the very first thing in the economic plan is to resolve the issues of excessive debt. We have also said that excessive debt is the one that was fueling inflation, it is the one that was fueling instability in the exchange rate, fueling the high interest rates,” he said.

“So number one in the economic plan is to deal with the excessive debt. How do you deal with that? You deal with it by going through an IMF programme, because that IMF programme makes it possible for you to meet your creditors in an organised manner and agree on how we are going to restructure the debt so that it is affordable. I repeat, you can have whatever plan, whatever statement, unless you solve the issue of the debt, it is just an academic exercise. We said that we are going to get an IMF programme and you know that the first part of that programme has been done within three, four months [of] coming into office. We have managed to get a staff level agreement which will concretise in a full agreement sometime in the middle of this year, something that the PF failed to do in the last five years.”

He said in the few months of being in office, the UPND had made clear visible progress in resolving major economic components.

“Within a few months of the UPND being in office, it has made clear visible progress in resolving the important components. Secondly, we have also said that we need to take steps to increase, in other words, to produce more goods and services because that is what creates jobs that so many of our people are looking for. Now in increasing economic growth, we have said that we want to push mining outputs to reach 3 million tonnes in the next 10 years because Zambia is a mining country, the minerals are there, what has been the problem is how to increase the production of the minerals,” said Dr Musokotwane.

“I can go on and on about what is going on. In tourism, for example, we have also said that the project in Kasaba Bay that PF abandoned in the MMD days, we have money in the budget so that that project is revised. It is being revised by this year, constructing an airport in Kasaba Bay, a bigger one, doing a plan for that area, enticing many hotels and lodges to go there. We are doing the same in Luiwa National Park. Then for all these, we are going to address the issues of red tape. So the plan is there.”