THE COOPERATING PARTNERS GROUP has commended the Zambian government for maintaining an open-door engagement policy in the process of driving the country’s economy towards stabilisation and growth.
The Cooperating Partners Group made this observation during a mid-year networking meeting with the Ministry of Finance at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Lusaka today, and added that, “it was not happening before, well done.”
Led by US AMBASSADOR TO ZAMBIA DAVID SCHULTZ, who is also the new Chair for the “COOPERATING PARTNERS GROUP TROIKA”, they also took note of a brief by the Minister of Finance FELIX MUTATI on the essential but non-intrusive powers on human rights given to the Zambia Police Service in the security enhancement regulations derived from the provisions of Article 31 of the Republican Constitution of Zambia.
The Cooperating Partners collectively called for sustained affirmative sensitization on Article 31 by the Government, further stating that, although its activation had caused some ripples, “we are doing our part to ensure that our citizens [foreign nationals] working in this country, and the authorities and investors in our capitals back home, are correctly briefed on the developments related to the current security enhancement measures in Zambia.”
The partners took the opportunity to call on the Zambian Government to clearly spell out the implementation framework for the situational analysis of State-Owned-Enterprises, adding that, “clear policy implementation has an influence on investment decisions by the international community.”
The State-Owned-Enterprises on the 2017 review schedule are Zesco, Zamtel, Zambia National Building Society [ZNBS], Indeni, TAZAMA Pipeline, Zambia Railways, and Zambia State Insurance Corporation [ZSIC].
“It is for this reason that your commendable work on publishing monthly economic indicators should continue and be supplemented by the launch of the 2017 Mid-Year Economic Review,” they said, adding that, “on our part, we undertake to continue our periodical performance reviews of the various grants and assistance programmes in Zambia.”
Members of the Cooperating Partners Group who attended the meeting included, United States, France, Italy, China, Ireland, Sweden, Britain [DFID], Japan, Finland, Germany, United Nations [UNDP], World Bank, International Monetary Fund, European Union, African Development Bank, and International Labour Organisation.
And Mr. MUTATI briefed the gathering of representatives of the international community that most economic fundamentals had performed well during the first half of 2017 because of the hard work of the people of Zambia, the re-energization of the local private sector, and the unwavering support of the Cooperating Partners; in-tandem with the International Investor and Business Community.
The Minister briefed the Cooperating Partners Group that the poor performance of non-tax-revenue collections has had a significant impact, “resulting in a revenue deficit in the first half of 2017 but rest assured that we are instituting measures to improve the situation,” and further appealed to the Cooperating Partners Group to render financial support to Zambia.
Mr. Mutati disclosed that to ensure that the Government’s prudential fiscal policies took a firm-hold on management of the fiscus, a FISP database clean-up exercise was underway and that a lot of non-deserving persons and fake beneficiaries had been weeded-out and banned from further accessing FISP incentives.
“We are slowing down on debt accumulation while striking the revenue mobilisation balance by increasing our domestic resource collection efforts,” he stated.
The Minister took time to brief the Cooperating Partners Group on Zambia’s engagement with the IMF and reiterated the commitment of the country to stay awake and keep a stern eye on the agreed benchmarks and performance criteria in order to reach the IMF Board decision point next month.
“We will use the IMF platform to consolidate our resolve to strictly adhere to world-class financial and economic management practices. It will become a way of life,” said Mr. Mutati.
Mr. Mutati also acknowledged the positive impact that visits to Zambia in 2017 by business, trade, and investment groups from countries such as France, Ghana, Britain, Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda, Poland, and Sweden have had on the current improvement of market sentiments and perception of the country as one of the best destinations for investment and business in Africa.