International trade expert Trevor Simumba has charged that Government is not being sincere over the extent of Zambia’s foreign debt stock.
Finance Minister Felix Mutati on Wednesday announced that Zambia’s total external debt stands at US$7.2 billion as at end of May 2017 from the US$6.9 billion recorded in December 2016.
But Mr Simumba says the $7 billion announced does not include Chinese project finance debt of approximately US$10 billion.
“As they say the devil is in the details. We are being distracted. Parliament need to ask the right questions,” Mr Simumba said.
“Just a snippet of announced Chinese loan funded projects: 1. KKIA new terminal: $320 million. 2. Copperbelt International Airport: $397 million. 3. L400 roads: $422 million. 4. C 400 CB roads: $493 million. Kafue Lower Gorge Hydro: $2 billion (cost increased from $800 million under MMD to $2 billion under PF after it was cancelled). Serenje to Eastern Province TAZARA rail link: $2.3 billion. Just these selected comes to US$5.932 billion.”
He added, “If we were to dig deeper we would find another US$5 billion if you include the dual carriage way project, roads in Western province that is costing billions alone owing to the complexity of the road over the plains of Western Province.”
Mr Simumba charged that there has been serious abuse by the PF Government when it comes to Chinese loans that are obtained without any transparency and contracted out by Ministers and senior civil servants without proper due process with very little benefit to the nation but at great cost.
“Remember Chinese money though cheap has to be paid back. It is a loan, not a grant or charity,” he warned.