President Edgar Lungu has announced a raft of austerity measures aimed at fiscal consolidation in line with measures suggested by the International Monetary Fund during its recent staff visit.
President Lungu has also revealed that a decision on whether Zambia will access budget of payment support from the IMF will be made in March when the IMF team returns for further consultations.
Addressing his first official news conference at State House, President Lungu directed the Minister of Energy and the Energy Regulation Board to immediately review fuel prices with the view of attaining cost reflective fuel prices.
Other austerity measures President Lungu announced:
- Government will review agriculture subsidies and electrify tariffs.
- Government is going to spend around USD $40 million dollars end of year on power imports hence the need to attain cost reflective electricity tariffs.
- A ban on unnecessary travel saying local and international travel will be restricted to essential travel only.
- All Government Ministries, agencies and departments to hold back on the procurement of new infrastructure development projects.
- Plans to start a new national airline have been deferred.
- New infrastructure development should be halted and defer all signed projects with consultation of the Attorney General.
President Lungu also regretted job losses in the mines but stated that Government has tried to do its best to minimise the job cuts from a projected 7,000 to around 3,051.
He further announced that the Food Reserve Agency will from next week start offloading cheaper Maize on the market which will see the price of Mealie meal reduce to K 65.
President Lungu admitted that he has the responsibility to resolve the crisis in the mines saying the buck stops at him.
He also announced that construction of the Ndola airport at a cost of 397 million US dollars will go ahead which will create 3,000 jobs.
President Lungu further revealed that the construction of new roads on the Copperbelt under C 400 will also proceed.