A WORLD Bank delegation of executive directors visiting Zambia says it is happy with President Hakainde Hichilema’s vision to revive the country’s economy.

Speaking during the high-level policy dialogue with several Cabinet Ministers, Wednesday, World Bank representative Eva Valle Maestro said President Hichilema’s desire to uphold the rule of law and fight corruption was a step in the right direction.

“We talked to the President on Monday, we began our visit with that meeting. Basically, we are very encouraged by his vision, we think it is a very ambitious one, and definitely goes in the right direction. He highlighted the points of fixing the economy, which is a major issue I think for him, with the ultimate goal of creating jobs which is essential. But also, he mentioned other areas which are also important, which is fighting corruption, something this government has made a flag of and also to uphold the rule of law. So those are areas that we think as I said the vision is very important,” she said.

“We are very happy to be here and indeed as the Minister mentioned, we have had the opportunity of the two days that we have spent in the country to become familiar with the reality on the ground. That was one of our first goals coming here, getting to learn about the country first hand. Something that I have to say is very important for our job and also for further engagement of the World Bank with the country. It is very good for us to know the reality on the ground in order to really comprehend the size of the challenges and the nature of the challenges our clients face. So that was very useful.”

She said the dialogue would provide a platform on how best the Bank could engage with Zambia going forward in various areas.

“So trying to lump the vision into specific reforms and deliverables, that is the way we approach this meeting today. We would like maybe to have a dialogue with each [one] of you on what the priority areas are. The specific steps and reforms that the government is planning in a number of areas that we feel are particularly important in order to really unlock the potential the country has and really meet the goals the new government has right now. So, I am sure that will help us EDs to have a clear vision on how best the Bank can engage with Zambia going forward, both with our financing products but also with the various knowledge the institution has in specific areas that can be used,” Maestro said.

And speaking earlier, Agriculture Minister Reuben Phiri said the government was happy with the engagement with the World Bank.

“You will recall colleagues that when we were welcoming our colleagues [during] that dinner, the Minister said it was very clear that what we have are the executive directors of the World Bank in different countries, who have come to get familiar with us and with the country so that when the body is sitting, they will be our mouthpiece, they will be our ambassadors. For them to represent us well they needed to see what we are doing. I think they had a day or two to move around to see what is happening and [I] want to believe that now you have a very clear picture of what we are trying to do and what we want to replicate and what [is] the way forward for our new government. You would have noticed that the enthusiasm you saw with the Ministers, that even transcends down to the areas where you went,” he said.

He said government was hopeful that the trip would help the delegation understand the government’s plans.

“Let me talk specifically on the agriculture sector, I am told you were at Mwomboshi Dam, we are very happy with a programme like that. It was a programme which you funded, the World Bank funded at quite reasonable value compared to what it is doing. Increasing the irrigation potential from about 3,500, we are looking at almost 8,000. I think they use 5,000, but we are looking at 8,500. We have got groups of large [scale] farmers, surrounded by small farmers. I am sure you saw what they were able to do. So that is one of the things we would like to do and replicate that into other areas. So we are very enthusiastic about that. We are very happy with programmes like that because they are tangible. You can actually see them,” said Phiri.

“I think that goes the same in energy, the same in Local Government, the same in tourism, the same in all the Ministries that are represented here. That type of enthusiasm, that type of desire to do the right thing. Therefore we are hopeful that as you go back, as you sit, you will be able to actually define the truth of what our country is trying to do. We are very happy to have you here, you are most welcome in our country. I hope that your visits were useful and factual and gave a good picture.”

Other Ministers that were present during the meeting were Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Gary Nkombo, Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Elias Mubanga, Minister of General Education Douglas Siakalima, Minister of Energy Peter Kapala and Minister of Tourism Rodney Sikumba.

The World Bank delegation include; Taufila Nyamazagbo, World Bank Executive Director for Africa Group 1 Constituency; Dr. Sarh Kpundeh, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia; Armando Manuel Executive Director, Angola; Nikolai Putscher, Alternate Executive Director, Germany; Joergen Frotzler, Alternate Executive Director, Sweden; Fabien Bouvet, RAPPORTEUR Zambia, Alternate Executive Director France; Zarau Kibwe Advisor to Executive Director; Karl Bach (Corporate Secretariat Office) Senior Operations Officer; and Lozi Sapele Program Assistant.