The Green Party has commended Government for debt sustainability measures which were announced by Finance Minister Margret Mwanakatwe in Lusaka yesterday.
Party president Mr. Peter Sinkamba said this morning that the austerity measures were long overdue and hoped that government will be coherent on the issue.
“As the Green Party, we commend Government on the austerity measures and hope that they will be coherent on the issue. The problem with our colleagues in PF is policy coherence,” he said.
He however stated that the measures taken will not make a big difference without addressing revenue inflows from exports.
“Our biggest problem at the moment is depressed external revenue. Our exports are not bringing into the country sufficient resources. We need to think outside the box to identify other revenue streams besides copper, to bring into the country revenue which is three or four time as much, if we have to significantly dismantle to the current debt stock and improve the quality of lives for our people,”he said.
And Mr. Sinkamba has appealed to Ms Mwanakatwe to prevail over Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya on the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes to help dismantle the domestic and external debt which when combined she said had risen to about US$13 billion.
The Green party leader said that if Government had heeded to the call to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes three years ago, the country would not have been in its current debt crisis situation.
“If Government had heeded to our call to legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes, we would not have been in this debt stress. We would have been generating at least US$36 billion per year. With that kind of money, we would definitely not be under this level of debt stress. In fact, we would have dismantled all the debt by now,” he said.
In a statement released late Thursday, Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe stated that President Lungu has ordered cancellation of some existing loans, banned the issuance of letters of credit and guarantees to state owned enterprises, terminated financing of development project that are below 80 per cent completion and cut down on ministerial travels with immediate effect.
Ms Mwanakatwe admitted that the current stock of domestic arrears, which stood at K12.7 billion as at end-December 2017, had adversely affected economic activity through elevated non-performing loans and subsequently contributed to reduce private sector financing.