SECRETARY to the Treasury Felix Nkulukusa says it will be up to civil servants to ask government to reintroduce the debt swap, but if it was up to him, he would not recommend it because of its implications.
In September 2021, government suspended the debt swap scheme.
And in an interview, Nkulukusa said engaging in a debt swap scheme meant that an individual had failed to pay back and would possibly be considered not ready to borrow from any financial institution in future.
“If you owe money to ZANACO and you have agreed on how you are going to pay that, why should me as your employer come in and you tell me that instead of me paying the money to ZANACO, you will pay it directly? Would you agree that I do that? The debt swap was a short solution because if I am not paying your money then you say I am under pressure because you are not paying my money. Since there is this problem, you can sort it out for me. But if I am paying you the money, it is better you have the money and go to ZANACO. You can even agree to restructure,” he said.
“Remember, when we do a debt swap you are registered under the credit reference bureau. What that will mean is you will be saying to the banking sector that you cannot afford. You as an individual is saying that I cannot afford therefore let the government pay for me. So the government may pay for you and that will be okay. Tomorrow you will want to go and borrow but on your credit reference bureau, it will say you are not ready to owe. Is that what you want as an individual? So if I was an individual and I was owed, I will tell the government if you want to do that, not with me because I do not want to destroy…”
Nkulukusa advised civil servants owed by government to claim their money in order to pay back their debt to creditors.
“Tomorrow, you will have a good project where you want to borrow money from a financial institution but you have got this dent where you failed to pay and the government came in to pay for you through the debt swap. The financial institution will keep that on record. It means you will not borrow again. Is that what you want? Get your money and if the government did not remit it, you can claim it. It is up to you to decide what you want. If that is what we want, we will say okay, this is what these people want. But the implication is that it may be your last borrowing from a financial institution and I do not think you would want that. You may have a better opportunity tomorrow of wanting to borrow,” said Nkulukusa.