Today, Minister of Finance and National Planning Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane during the Symposium on 2023 Economic Performance and 2024 Budget and Economic Outlook highlighted the following.
✅2023 was a successful year because the country registered a respectable 4.3 percent economic growth rate.
✅In 2023, the Country continued to successfully implement the economic reform programme that Government is undertaking together with International Monitory Fund (IMF), as a result, Zambia received 187 United States dollars from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), bringing the total receipt to 561 million dollars out of the expected one point three billion dollars financial bailout.
✅Dr. Musokotwane however attributed the depreciation of the Zambian kwacha to the following:
i. Reduced inflows of foreign exchange from the Mining sector.
ii. The 2023 payments of imported fertilizer which was done in the last quarter of the year.
iii. Maturing of Government Bonds which the previous administration issued to fertilizer suppliers as they were not paying them. The Bonds are now maturing and the bond holders are paying foreign currencies and,
iV. The uncompleted debt restructuring.
✅He however expressed optimism that the Zambian currency will soon stabilise.
✅Dr. Musokotwane said an investor in the Konkola Copper Mine (KCM) is expected to inject another 50-million dollars in the next one week which is likely to have a positive impact in the performance of the kwacha.
✅The Minister said the investor in Mopani Copper Mines is also expected to inject more money in the mine and this will also bring more dollars in the country which will result in the stability of the local currency.
✅On the effective implementation IMF ECF Programme, Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane revealed that:
i. The second review of the IMF Programme was successfully concluded by the Staff mission in November 2023.
ii. The IMF programme is very important as it anchors the debt restructuring process with the country’s creditors, and continues to unlock resources from our cooperating partners
iii. In December 2023, Government received US $125 million for budget support from the World Bank.
✅On debt Restructuring process the Minister said:
i. Significant progress has been made, reaffirming that a Memorandum of Understanding with the Official Creditor Committee was signed in October 2023 to restructure debt under the G20 Common Framework.
ii. He further noted that the debt restructuring process has taken longer than anticipated as Government is still in discussions with the commercial creditors including Eurobond holders.
iii. The Minister explained that this is to seek a debt treatment that is comparable to what has been agreed with the official creditors committee.
iV. Government is working to conclude this process as soon as possible and ensure that the country’s macroeconomic environment is stable.
✅Regarding the Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Minister said:
i. CDF has been a game changer in the way Government administer development across the country saying Schools, Roads, Maternity annexes, among others have been built.
✅He however noted that to enhance the implementation of CDF, Government will:
i. Review the Constituency Development Fund Act No. 11 of 2018 which he said this will result in closing gaps in the management, implementation and utilization of funds which will better the livelihoods of the citizens through job creation and empowerment.
ii. Review the Public Procurement Act, 2020 to further strengthen citizen participation and streamline procurement processes.
✅Concerning decentralisation the Minister said Government will make sure that decentralisation by devolution is fully implemented in the medium-term to redress the socio-economic inequalities saying already some functions have been devolved.
✅To support decentralization, Government is implementing the Zambia Devolution Support Programme which he said the Programme focuses on fiscal decentralization and financial management, local area planning and budgeting, governance, and human resource management of the Local Authorities.
✅And on electricity constraints Dr. Situmbeko stated the following:
i. Government will shift focus towards renewable energy sources, and continue with the movement towards a cost reflective electricity tariff to attract investment.
ii. Government will also Increase investment in electricity generation will help the country get rid of the seasonal load shedding which disrupts production in the country.
✅On the petroleum side, Government is working tirelessly to get the Tazama pipeline bring in 100 percent of the diesel the country consumes per month.
✅Government will also continue working on expanding the petroleum storage facilities to ensure fuel security is enhanced.
✅On Agriculture Reforms the Minister highlighted the following:
1. Government has have continued to reform the Farmer Input Support Programme to make it more effective.
2. Dr. Musokotwane said this includes Implementing the electronic input support system to increase private sector participation.
3. He added that this will also smoothen the importation of farming products, and reduce exchange rate pressures.
✅And on Farmblocks Development the Minister stated that Government is working to put in place the necessary infrastructure such as roads, bridges and power lines, in the farm blocks to help increase agricultural production.
✅On the mining sector the Minister stated that:
i. Mopani and KCM – the revival of these two mines will significantly increase copper production in the country.
ii. Government has also put in place attractive incentives to boost investments in the mining sector.
iii. Government will operationalize the Minerals Regulation Commission to enhance regulation in the mining sector,
✅The Minister also said accurate geological information is fundamental to the achievement of the 3 million metric tonnes of copper production target by 2032.
✅Dr. Musokotwane disclosed that in 2024 Government has planned to carry out aerial surveys to map the mineral deposits in Copperbelt, Lusaka, Northwestern, Southern, and Western Provinces as well as parts of Central Province.
✅Government will continue undertaking reforms to open economic opportunities for higher and inclusive growth.