The year 2008 will stand out in our nation’s history as a year when our Nation suffered a terrible blow when we lost our our third president, Dr Levy Partick Mwanawasa, President Rupiah Banda has said.
In his end of year address to the nation both on national radio and Television, Mr Banda the year 2008 has been Zambia’s worst year after losing Dr Mwanawasa due to death on duty.
The President added that the tragedy was compounded by the global financial crisis which he said negatively affected Zambia.
” Zambia’s tragedy in 2008 was made worse by the global financial crisis which negatively affected our country through the collapse of copper prices and the domino effect that this has had on effect,”President Banda says in the speech.
He explains that the falling copper prices and the the unplanned expenses of the presidential by – elections had put severe strain on the country’s budget resulting on the negative impact on the economy.
The President however paid tribute to Zambian citizens for the peaceful manner they mourned the late Dr Mwanawasa.
On the national economy, Mr Banda said his administration had continued to pursue prudent fiscal and monetary policies to sustain macro-economic stability.
In the agriculture sector, Mr Banda said his administration continued to pursue policies aimed at ensuring household food and national security.
” The country produced enough to remain food secure.This food security is however now threatened by the global down turn with its impact on food prices and the cost of agricultural impact,” the President said.
On the coming year 2009, the Republican President said the coming year was one of great challenges predominantly on the global economic down turn.
The down turn has a number of set including the falling copper-prices, weakened Kwacha, rising inflation, reduced economic activities and the threatened job loses.
” When I discuss and bring these situations to the attention of Zambian, I am challenging us all to unite in purpose and have resilience and determination to face and rise above the challenges,” said the President.
He however said he was not a defeatist as being suggested in some quarters saying by telling Zambians the truth and to call on them to unite to overcome these difficulties did not mean he was a defeated.
” It is of course easier to take the populist route and pretend that all is well and that there are easy solutions,” President Banda said.
He said his administration is aware as all Zambians should be that the global economic crisis means the expected revenue from the mining sector will not materialise at all.
He however said government was also concerned with the plight of the unemployed and the low income of most citizens adding that this was why his administration is putting emphasis on programmes to fight poverty.
Among these programmes are the citizens economic empowerment commission (CEEC) he said has started to disburse funds to ensure that Zambians meaningfully participated in the economic activities.