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IMF team expected in Zambia next month for rescue package

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to visit Zambia next month to begin talks on a planned rescue package for the southern African nation, state media reported on Friday.

The IMF plans to provide a monetary aid package of between 1.2 to 1.5 billion U.S. dollars to help revive the Zambian economy.

Minister of Finance Felix Mutati said that the government has since started working on modalities for engagement with the IMF.

“Our strategy is clear. First of all, we need to construct a home-grown recovery program with the key elements that are troubling the economy as a platform for engaging with IMF. The strategy is that we need to secure a stable recovery platform to grow the economy,” he is quoted as saying by the Zambia Daily Mail.

The government, he said, plans to take the economy to sustainable levels, adding that reducing the fiscal deficit remains crucial to government plans to revive the economy.

The Finance Ministry announced in April that it would seek an aid program from the IMF that it hoped would be finalized by the end of the year.



Zambian government priority will be to reduce fiscal deficit

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government said Thursday its priority will be to reduce fiscal deficit with a view to reduce borrowing.

According to figures from the Ministry of Finance, Zambia’s total public debt currently stands at 9.75 billion U.S. dollars, with 6.05 billion dollars being foreign debt and 3.7 billion dollars being domestic debt.

Stakeholders have expressed concern that the country could plunge into another debt trap unless the government reduces its appetite to borrow.

Minister of Finance Felix Mutati said the key objective of reducing fiscal deficit was to put in place measures to reduce subsidies and enhance economic activity.

The government, he said, will work closely with the Central Bank to normalize fiscal conditions and develop a roadmap to gradually dismantle debts it owes to suppliers of goods and services.

Speaking at the start of an annual conference on banking and finance in Lusaka, the country’s capital, the finance minister said the government will not tolerate fiscal indiscipline from government spending agencies as it tries to improve the economy.

The two-day conference, organized by the Zambia Institute of Banking and Financial Services, is being held under the theme “Financial Inclusion - Exploring Regional Best Practices”.


Zambia starts consultation on economic recovery plan

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government said on Tuesday that it has started making both internal and external consultations in order to come up with an economic recovery plan.

The Zambian government suffered the effects of the downfall in global commodity prices, which saw copper prices plummeting. Copper accounts for about 70 percent in the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The situation was exacerbated by a crippling power deficit which saw firms downsizing on their production, with the mining sector, the most affected.

But Minister of Finance Felix Mutati said consultations with both local and external stakeholders have commenced to ensure broad consultation in formulating economic recovery policies which will be announced alongside the 2017 budget.

The government, he said, will cooperate with all partners, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in constructing the country’s economic recovery program, according to a statement released by his office following a meeting with visiting British Department for International Development chief economist Stefan Dercon.

The finance minister is this week expected to meet stakeholders from the banking sector, revenue collection agency and the mining industry as part of the consultation process.

He said the government will prescribe invaluable reforms aimed at assisting the country in handling the pressing socio-economic challenges facing people.

Dercon said Zambia should diversify its exports as a way of cushioning it against the side effects of over-dependence on copper revenue.

Zambia is expected to agree a deal with the IMF for a financing program of about 1.2 billion U.S. dollars before the end of this year to deal with the current economic challenges.


Zambian leader says woman should take over top UN job

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Thursday called on United Nations member states to elect a woman as the new secretary-general of the world body.

Lungu said he had passion for the development of women and the youth hence his proposal that a woman should take over after the tenure of current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expires, according to the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.

Lungu, who attended the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York, said the summit was important in making efforts towards meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that the Leaders’ Forum on Refugees and other migrants gave world leaders an opportunity to share experiences on hosting refugees and finding solutions to the issue.

The Zambian leader said the challenges of refugees from Syria in Europe and the instability in the Middle East has become a source of concern for peace.

In his address during high-level UN plenary meeting on tackling mass movements of refuges and other migrants, the Zambian leader said his government has commissioned a study into the refugee economy, which will help shape policies on asylum seekers’ access to work and entrepreneurship.

The study is being conducted in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and that it will also help transform the widely held perception of a refugee as a burden to a realization that a refugee or migrant was an asset to a country in which they choose to live.


Police arrest Zambia opposition lawyer over possession of seditious materials

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Police in Zambia on Tuesday arrested a lawyer of the main opposition political party and charged her for being in possession of seditious materials.

Martha Mushipe, lawyer of the United Party for National Development, was arrested on Tuesday morning when she appeared at a police station in Lusaka, the country’s capital where she was summoned, the party said in a statement.

Police had summoned her over a document which was confiscated from her office early this year.

She has since been released on bail after appearing in court, the party added.

During last month’s general elections, the lawyer publicly told off officials from the Electoral Commission of Zambia after reports that the electoral body had connived with the ruling party to manipulate the presidential results.

She was also one of the lawyers who represented the opposition party during a petition of the presidential results and openly told off the judges over their alleged bias in the matter which was later thrown out.

The party claimed in the statement that the arrest was part of a ploy to disorganize the opposition party, adding that more party officials and sympathizers will be arrested.

Last week, the police arrested former Zambian Vice President Nevers Mumba who campaigned for the opposition party for allegedly storming into the newsroom of the state broadcaster and allegedly threatening reports over a story.


Zambian opposition leader seeks to rejoin ruling party

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- An opposition leader in Zambia on Monday revealed his desire to rejoin the country’s ruling party.

Miles Sampa, leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF), resigned as deputy minister of finance in the run-up to last month’s elections and formed his own party.

He later joined forces with the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) in de-campaigning the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) during the campaigns.

But according to a letter addressed to President Edgar Lungu and copied to senior members of the ruling party, the opposition leader said he wanted to return back to the ruling party after realizing the mistakes he made in leaving in the first place.

“Today I woke up with deep reflection on my recent past. I realize that I went astray. From the date I lost my mentor and father figure, my actions have been irrational and superseded by emotions. I deeply regret it all and marks as a solid lesson,” he said in his letter dated September 19, 2016.

Sampa, the nephew to late President Michael Sata who founded the PF in 2001, said he has decided to rejoin the ruling party after seeing guidance from a number of people but noted that he does not seek or expect any position or appointment in Lungu’s government.

Sampa was one of the ruling party senior members who attempted to succeed Sata following his death in 2014 but lost to Lungu in party elections.



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