The Irish government has this year pledged to give Zambia US$35 million as its financial assistance to the country’s development programmes.
And the Irish government has welcomed the increased allocation of funds and the introduction of other incentives in the agriculture sector in the 2009 national budget.
Irish Ambassador to Zambia, Bill Nolan, said his government will this year give US$35 million to Zambia’s development programmes, particularly in the education, health, tourism, agriculture sectors, governance and HIV/AIDS related programmes.
Mr. Nolan told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today that his government has been prompted to increase donor support to Zambia in order to support development in the country’s governance system and make Zambia more viable to respond to corruption issues.
The envoy said that his government was happy with the way the Zambian government was utilizing donor funds.
He said 50 per cent of the funds will go to programmes aimed at improving the education sector in the country.
The envoy has since challenged the Zambian government to prudently use donor funds in order to instill more confidence in the cooperating partners.
He said there was need for the Zambian government to put in place stringent measures to ensure that resources allocated towards economic programmes were prudently and transparently utilised.
And the Irish government has welcomed the increase in the allocation of funds to the agriculture sector and the zero rating of taxes on some agriculture equipment as spelled out in the 2009 budget.
Mr. Nolan said this will help diversify the economy in order to counter effects of the current economic meltdown.
He said it was impressive that the Zambian government has increased funding to the agriculture sector despite the fall in copper prices and the current global economic crunch.
The Irish envoy said improving the agriculture sector would help the country reduce poverty levels and be able to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Mr. Nolan has since assured Zambia of his government’s continued support to the country’s economic development programmes.