The Swedish government has delayed the release of US$50 million which was due for disbursement this month.
Swedish Embassy deputy head of mission, Charlotta Norrby, said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that her Government has not suspended aid to the Ministry of Health but has just delayed the release.
“What we have done so far is that we have delayed our disbursement to the health sector and this means that we are not suspending this for good. We are looking forward to the findings of the final report,” she said.
Ms Norrby also said that the cooperating partners had a fruitful meeting with President Banda on Tuesday regarding the measures Government has put in place to bring to book officers who allegedly stole over K10 billion at the Ministry of Health.
Ms Norrby who is also Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) country director, said donors have been holding informal meetings with Government for almost two weeks and are happy with the measures that have so far been put in place to investigate corruption allegations at the Ministry of Health.
“We have been holding meetings with Government informally for almost two weeks and yesterday (Tuesday) we met the President and had very fruitful discussions with him,” she said.
Ms Norrby said the donors are impressed with the work being carried out by the Anti Corruption Commission and the Auditor General’s Office so far and are looking forward to seeing the results of the investigations at the Ministry of Health.
She said the Swedish Government is waiting for Government to do its work within its timeframe but is eager to see the results of the investigations as soon as possible.
Ms Norrby also said Sweden is concerned about the negative impact the delay in [quote]disbursing funds to the Ministry of Health may have on the lives of ordinary citizens.
“Of course we are concerned about the impact this may have on the lives of ordinary people just as Government is. That is why we want this to move as quickly as possible,” she said.
Ms Norrby said Sweden is ready to continue supporting the health sector in Zambia and it has continued to support other sectors like agriculture and energy which are not affected by the delay in disbursing funds.
And Ms Norrby said donors are ready to financially assist the Ministry of Health and the Auditor Generals’ Office if they make a formal request to enable them clear the alleged corruption mess at the ministry.
[Zambia Daily Mail]