PRESIDENT Levy Mwanawasa says he has accepted the apology from the chairman of the Zambia International Business Advisory Council (ZIBAC), Lord Cairns, who yesterday castigated government for failing to implement most of the programmes agreed upon at the last meeting.
Mr Mwanawasa said Lord Cairns apologized for criticizing government, adding that he was upset by the remarks made yesterday.
He said government has been working very hard to ensure that the country made economic progress.
Mr Mwanawasa was speaking in Livingstone today during the closure of the Fifth ZIBAC meeting.
”Lord Cairns has apologized for criticizing us. I must say I was upset. We have been working very hard breaking our necks and he was here criticizing,” said Mr Mwanawasa.
Mr Mwanawasa said he had also apologized to Lord Cairns for sounding cruel yesterday and noted that it was not his intention.
Meanwhile, Mr Mwanawasa has directed various ministries to take up issues that were raised at the just ended ZIBAC meeting seriously.
He however assured participants that some issues that were raised at the previous meeting were being implemented and that issues raised today would be implemented within the reform program.
Mr Mwanawasa observed that even though a lot had been achieved, there was still need for more to be done.
He also directed ministries to speed up the implementation of the resolutions.
Mr Mwanawasa said he takes the consultation processes of the meetings and the outcomes very seriously.
”Our vision is to have a vibrant private sector driven economy. This is why I was disappointed a few months ago with the Zambia Business Forum who organised a workshop and only invited themselves without involving the private sector,” he said.
Mr Mwanawasa urged the Zambia Business Forum to ensure that they involve the private sector in their workshops so that they are given a platform to talk about their experiences which could, in turn, attract more investments.
The President said the country needed to attract more investments, especially in the energy sector, where there was a looming power deficit in the near future.
Mr Mwanawasa also noted that government was taking measures aimed at reducing the cost of doing business in the country.
And speaking earlier, Lord Cairns, who is based in the United Kingdom, said his comments on the Zambian economy that he uttered yesterday were based on the impressions that he had got from friends and hearsay.
He said after coming to Zambia and hearing for himself, his impression now was that Zambia was moving forward economically.
He said the country had an emerging private sector and that it had also scored some success stories.
”My impressions on Zambia then relied on hearsay and friends. My impressions, now that I have seen for myself, are that there is much more vibrant dialogue and that government and the private sector are seeing themselves as partners in developing this country.
”My sense, too, is that Zambia is moving forward. You have got an emerging private sector and you have some success stories,” he said.
Lord Cairns said there was need to develop passion in order to get things done, and that there was need to put a system in place that would ensure that things agreed upon are done.
Zambia Business Forum Chief Executive Officer, Reginald Mfula, urged government to resolve and revise policy framework on implementation.
Mr Mfula said efficient implementation of programmes would result in a lot of poverty reduction and direct foreign investments.
He pledged the private sector’s commitment in working with government on the implementation of various programmes.
Outgoing World Bank Country representative, Ohene Nyanin, commended government for taking bold and courageous steps to make Zambia a
He said when the first ZIBAC meeting was held in 2003, Zambia faced many economic challenges, among them was the issue of macro stability.
He however said in the last four and a half years, government had managed to reduce interest rates and inflation, adding that this was able to be achieved through the removal of the fourty per cent housing allowance that was earlier awarded to civil servants.
Mr Nyanin observed that although the country had done very well in the past four and a half years, the challenges were still immense.