FINANCE and National Planning Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane says the UPND government will not allow any shady deals at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).

In an interview, Dr Musokotwane said the government would use IDC to drive the economic interests of the nation.

“In line with the philosophy of this government, IDC would be there basically to drive the economic interests of the nation. It will be a component as part of the arsenal of driving the economic agenda of the country. What we shall not do or tolerate is to use IDC in any shady deals if any. So that will be our focus to make sure that all the institutions of the land including IDC [are] serving the economic interests of the country,” he said.

When asked about the status of IDC Chief Executive Officer Mateyo Kaluba and whether the government had appointed a new CEO, Dr Musokotwane said Kaluba had been sent on leave but had not been fired.

“Yes, he has been sent on leave. The current IDC CEO has gone on leave, we didn’t say he has been fired. So the outcome of that will be revealed,” he said.

Dr Musokotwane said government was trying to understand why some state companies were not making profits and also looking at solutions.

“This is something that we are going to improve. First of all, those companies that are not making profits, we need to understand why. If they are losing money, we need to look at solutions. If it works, well and good but if they are losing money, then obviously they are not prepared to put money in the company because our money in the treasury is used to build schools, clinics,” he said.

And Dr Musokotwane said the continued inflation rate reduction had a positive impact on the interest rates.

“Interests have been coming down, they have come down quite substantially from the time we took over, which is an ongoing process. We complain about interest rates being high but when inflation is running high you will see an increase in the cost of money. If you go and put money in your bank and prices are increasing every day, you are losing value. So when interest rates become high under those circumstances, it is justified because the owners of the money in the bank also should not lose it. So the answer to that is [to] lower the inflation rate, so that those who deposit money into the Bank, they don’t lose value,” said Dr Musokotwane.

“But the bonus out of that is that those who borrow, they borrow at a reasonable rate. So the key is the rate of inflation and as you are aware that month after month from August last, the rate of inflation has been coming down. In August last year, it was almost 24 percent, so you can see there is a steady and strong decline in the rate of inflation and this is what is reflecting in the interest rates coming down.”