VICE-President Inonge Wina has called on the World Bank and other cooperating partners to amend procedures and reduce red tape to help the country address its economic challenges.
Mrs Wina said Government has taken note of the country’s fiscal position and necessary remedial measures have been taken.
The Vice-President was speaking in a speech read on her behalf by Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska, at the launch of the sixth economic brief by the World Bank which focuses on energy and examines the measures needed to mitigate the impact of the power crisis in 2016.
“Without getting into details, I would like to remind this meeting that the President has taken bold measures on the fiscal deficit and to ensure that we have a prudent fiscal position,” Mrs Wina said.
She said the measures taken on the monetary side are aimed at addressing the volatility of the exchange rate that will in turn rein in on increasing food and commodity prices.
Mrs Wina said criticisms and merely pointing out challenges being faced does not provide any answers.
“We need to put in place a series of solutions to the difficulties we are facing. I call upon the World Bank and other cooperating partners to be resolute in this regard by reforming their procedures and reducing on red tape in such times of difficulty,” she said.
And Mrs Wina also said Zambia’s energy sector is poised to be one of the major contributors to the country’s foreign exchange considering the measures that Government has taken to counter the energy deficit.
She said the sector will help strengthen the country’s external sector that is in deficit and build reserves that will underpin future growth and assure foreign direct investments.
The Vice-President said firm steps were taken that seem painful now, but will deliver in the long run, in a much sustainable way.
Speaking at the same function, World Bank country manager Ina-Marlene Ruthenberg said the country faces the toughest economic challenges which have been caused by external headwinds and domestic pressure which have intensified over the last few months.
Ms Ruthenberg said insufficient fiscal buffers were built up in the times of higher copper prices, thus limiting the room for manoeuvre.
And minister of Energy and Water Development Dora Siliya reassured that Government is doing its best to end the power deficit.
Ms Siliya, who was represented by director of energy in her ministry, Oscar Kalumiana, said Government has put in place short and long-term measures to counter the effects of the power deficit.
She said Zambia intends to import a further 200 megawatts of electricity from another ship which will soon dock in Mozambique.
The power will be bought in two segments of 100 megawatts, beginning in January and later in March.
The minister said the Itezhi Tezhi hydropower plant, is expected to offload 120 megawatts, while the Maamba coal powered plant will add 300 megawatts to the national grid once it is complete.
Ms Siliya said now that electricity tariffs have been adjusted upwards, many companies both locally and abroad have expressed interest in investing in power generation.