PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda’s foreign trips have generated investment worth more than US$400 million within a period of one year that he has been in power.
Chief Government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha said this in Lusaka yesterday and dismissed assertions by United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema that the trips had been costly to the country.
Lieutenant-General Shikapwasha said President Banda’s trips had yielded more investments than the cost of the trips while more pledges had been lined up.
In an interview in Lusaka yesterday, Gen Shikapwasha said the K5 billion quoted by Mr Hichilema for each trip was by far lower than the value of the investment even if the figure were true.
Gen Shikapwasha said Mr Hichilema was speaking from a position of ignorance following his sentiments that President Rupiah Banda’s foreign trips were costing the country K5 billion (US$1 million) and not bringing value to the economy.
He said other benefits included job creation and some revenue is aid, which was much higher than K150 billion while some companies were constructing structures.
Gen Shikapwasha said the Government was constructing high schools, hospitals and roads throughout the country.
Gen Shikapwasha said Mr Hichilema should realise that some of the trips were short and cost little money while the returns were much higher.
He said the president had a duty to attract investors from other countries and develop the country instead of sitting in State House while people wanted jobs.
Gen Shikapwasha said the president would not be distracted by Mr Hichilema’s attacks because he was conveniently not stating how much revenue and investment had been brought into the country as a result of the same trips.
Gen Shikapwasha said Mr Hichilema should avoid politicising development efforts, as it was common knowledge that President Banda was working hard to achieve development by promoting the country’s investment potential abroad.
He wondered why Mr Hichilema condemned the recently launched Choma-Namwala road saying it was below standard and yet he was not an engineer.
“That is the problem with Mr Hichilema he talks and then thinks later. The roads the Government is constructing are being used by his company Grant Thornton and himself when he is travelling to Namwala,” Gen Shikapwasha said.
Gen Shikapwasha said the Government had done a lot to ensure that development was speeded up for the benefit of all Zambians.
He said the Government had delivered the bumper harvest at 2.8 million metric tonnes under the leadership of President Banda and this has ensured that there was food security at household level.
Gen Shikapwasa challenged Mr Hichilema to drive around the countryside and observe huge stacks of maize the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) was purchasing from farmers.
[Times of Zambia]