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Friday, July 3, 2020

Zambia’s external debt swells to over US$9 billion – Mwanakatwe

Economy Zambia’s external debt swells to over US$9 billion - Mwanakatwe

Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe has revealed Zambia’s external debt stock stood at US$9.37 billion as at the end of the first quarter of 2018.

Mrs Mwanakatwe also disclosed that as at June 2018, Government had paid US$161.3 Million in external debt service.

She said that total guaranteed debt was US$2.7 billion, of which US$1.21 billion had been drawn against the principal amount.

The Finance Minister added that the stock of domestic debt as at end June 2018 was K51.86 billion.

She further revealed that the country had US$1.82 billion in its reserves as at the end of June 2018.

The Bank of Zambia said in May that the government financed its current account deficit of $139.2 million in the first quarter of 2018 through a drawdown on international reserves.

Meanwhile, Mrs Mwanakatwe says Zambia will share data on its planned austerity measures with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get feedback on their appropriateness for macroeconomic sustainability.

In February the IMF rejected Zambia’s borrowing plans, saying they risked making it harder for the country to sustain its debt load.

An IMF team is expected in Zambia next week.

“We wish to state that as this work is proceeding, we will refrain from making public statements on this matter until we have a firm position with the IMF,” Mrs. Mwanakatwe said during a mid year state of the economy news conference.
Below are key highlights from Mrs Mwanakatwe’s briefing

GROSS DOMESTIC GROWTH

• Finance Ministry remains confident that the annual projection of the revised growth of above 4% remains feasible as real sector indicators show a rise in economic activity in the first half of 2018.
• GDP growth will range between 4-5% in the medium term, driven by mining, tourism and construction sectors in a stable power supply and stable global development.
• Downside risks to the growth projections include volatility in copper prices, high lending rates and adverse weather conditions.
Fiscal performance remains satisfactory although adverse liquidity conditions has made financing difficult.

REVENUE OUT-TURN

• Preliminary estimates for revenues and grants in the first half of 2018 amounted to ZMW25.07billion and were broadly in line with the period projections.
• Domestic revenues were above target by 3.3%, supported by positive performance of Value Added Tax collections.
• Lower than target performance was recorded in some revenue categories such as the income tax, customs and excise duties, export duties, non-tax revenues and grants.
In an effort to address some of the challenges associated with the low revenue collection in some tax types, government is undertaking measures which include:
• Use of electronic solutions in revenue collection including the telecommunications transaction monitoring system for mobile service providers and roll out of fiscal registers;
• Increased pace of implementing the land titling program which government is working with the World Bank;
• The recent change in the taxation for fuel importers to enhance excise duty collection.

EXPENDITURE OUT-TURN

• Total expenditure (including amortization) for the first half of 2018 amounted to ZMW39.6 billion, against the budgeted K34.19 billion. The major components which were above target were interest payments by 43.2% and capital expenditure by 65%.
• Going forward, expenditure control will be at the core to achieve fiscal adjustment given the tight financing conditions and higher deficit.
• In this regard, measures on enhancing payroll management, expenditure cuts in areas such as use of goods and services, progressing on procurement reforms and debt re-prioritization will be the focus for the rest of the year. This is meant to create a lower spending base as we get into the 2019 financial year.

2019 BUDGET PREPARATIONS

Budget preparations have commenced with broad objectives which include:

• Increased revenue performance, particularly taking bold steps on non-tax revenue collection; ii. implementing in full measures announced by His Excellency the President while protecting growth and enhancing social protection; and
• Reducing Government borrowing, particularly in the domestic market.
• Cooperating partners have been involved in the preliminary work in the joint cluster working groups. The government has called upon economic players to make suggestions on how it can enhance the budget management and credibility.

MONETARY POLICY DEVELOPMENTS

• Inflation remained within the target range of 6-8% closing the period at 7.4% down from the May rate of 7.8%.
• For the rest of the year, the expectation is that inflation will remain within the programmed target.
• The low levels of inflation continued to support monetary policy. We however note that room for monetary easing is becoming tight amid government financing under tight liquidity conditions. Therefore, It government’s priority to scale back in domestic borrowing to help improve monetary conditions and lowering the cost of borrowing.
• Suffice to mention that further reduction in lending rates also hinges on implementation of the austerity measures to support fiscal consolidation.
• Foreign Exchange market and External Sector The Kwacha remained relatively stable against the major trading currencies during the first half of the year, trading at an average of K9.93 per US$.
• Trade deficit during the first five months of 2018 continued being positive with a surplus of K245.4 Million recorded in May 2018.
• Recovery in the performance of Non-traditional exports in the recent past has been recorded with the share of NTEs averaging of 22.9 percent in export earnings between May and April 2018.
• In view of the positive performance it is expected that the current account balance will further narrow down in 2018 and become positive over the medium term.

FOREIGN EXCHNAGE RESERVES

• The reserve position as at end June 2018 was US$1.82 billion.

DEBT

• External debt stock as at end of first quarter was US $9.37billion. The slight increase in the debt stock was on account of disbursements during the review period.
• As at June, 2018, government paid US$161.3million in external debt service.
• Guaranteed debt was US$2.7billion, of which US$1.21billion had been drawn against the principal amount.
• Domestic debt stock as at end June 2018 was ZMW51.86billion.
• Domestic arrears in first quarter 2018 increased to ZMW13.91billion from ZMW12.77billion due to a rise in arrears related to roads and other RDCs.
• Arrears accumulation pace remains a source of concern to the state and commitment controls are being strengthened to avoid accumulation in RDCs.
• Road sector arrears are on account of more work being done as a result of payments made. The concentration of dismantling projects at 80% and above will address this problem going forward.

POLICY AND STRUCTURAL REFORMS UPDATE

The government continues to implement policy and structural reforms key of which include:

• Reforms to parastatal bodies with attention being given to institutions such as ZESCO whose debt is high resulting in operations being unsustainable.
• Energy sector reforms that include reforming the fuel importation system and the completion of the cost of service study which has so far faced challenges that require resolution.
• Legislative reforms that form a cornerstone of fiscal sustainability. In the review period, the Public Finance Management Act has been signed into law, while the crediting reporting and Public Private Partnership bill are at an advanced stage in Parliament.
• Work on the enactment of the Planning and Budgeting bill is advanced with the aim of taking the bill to parliament as part of the budget legislation alongside the new procurement bill.

• Work on the Loans and Guarantees (Authorization) Act has been delayed due to reviews to the constitution.

IMPLEMENTATION OF AUSTERITY MEASURES

• The state in in the process of implementing these measures, to achieve a new fiscal and debt outlook into the medium term. The measures announced are supposed to support growth and social protection going forward. Ongoing projects whose financing has been signed for will continue to be implemented as these will support growth going forward.
• The Ministry of Finance will be selective on the cancellation of current contracted debt which have not yet disbursed to address economic impact, financial and legal implications with the aim of freeing up cash flows by carrying out liability management on selected bilateral loans, both local and foreign in addition to extending respective maturity profiles. The state will target to reduce the pace of debt accumulation, and to smoothen the maturity profile, so that the government has more fiscal space, especially around the time of maturity of the Eurobonds.
• These measures should allow the country to revert to moderate risk debt distress and support fiscal consolidation.

IMF ENGAGEMENT

• The MOF has taken measures to rein in on fiscal slippages and risks related to debt. These measures are now being incorporated in the fiscal and debt position for 2018 and over the medium term. It is this data that once completed will be given to the IMF for assessment measures to gauge the macroeconomic sustainability for Zambia.
• The MOF will, while work is proceeding, refrain from making public statements on this matter until a firm position with the IMF is settled for.

OUTLOOK AND RISKS FOR 2018

Implementation of the recent austerity measures will aid the sustenance of the macroeconomic environment, growth prospects and renewed confidence in the economy. Risks on the outlook include;

• Climate variability
• Failure to achieve structural adjustment measures over the medium term that may impact on growth or failure to address tight liquidity in the market to address the limited access to credit by private sector.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Alot of it has been used to buy expensive cars and to build mansions in countries like swaziland by these mothers of all thieves .

    • The truth is that debt is at least twice what Margaret is saying. I still don’t understand how Edgar would have made this drunk our Finance minister. They are probably drinking buddies. That the economy is in trouble is not a secret, so is the same that Edgar has no clue how to fix it. He told us he was clueless and without a vision. We should have listened

    • PF has no economic agenda besides Debt coz it’s easy to steal from kick-backs during loan acquisition, during tender award & when the contractor is fighting for payment.
      – Why not improve cash-crop farming to improve GDP?
      – Why not boost manufacturing sector to improve GDP & employ thousands of youths?
      – Why not boost import substitution industries to curtail forex outflows?
      – Why not boost food processing industries to add value to agric products & exportability?
      – Why not boost production of copper products, instead of export copper cathodes like our ancestors who exported copper ingots? Search for fotoz or videos on you-tube of Santiago Chile & see the difference with filthy Lusaka.
      Taxes from these sectors will be enough to build roads, clinics & other infrastructure.
      The…

    • CONT’D..
      The dilemma is that PF can’t do this coz they are inherently thieves. As long as they steal enough to build a block of flats in Lusaka, build a mansion & drive a range rover, then all is well.

      The PF00Ls who vote & rig for VISION-LESS Lungu & his den of thieves should repay this Debt.

  2. The truth is that debt is at least twice what Margaret is saying. I still don’t understand how Edgar would have made this drunk our Finance minister. They are probably drinking buddies. That the economy is in trouble is not a secret, so is the same that Edgar has no clue how to fix it. He told us he was clueless and without a vision. We should have listened

  3. This life…When you guys were busy borrowing, we never used to receive daily updates! Now that the money is spent, we are constantly reminded of the mess… Such is life!

  4. There is need to come to terms with reality. The IMF team will certainly not condone this deluded and sheer lies being propagated by this sot. Just disclose the exact external debt and not this gibberish. US9.3 billion is far from the true debt if you factor in the Chinese debt. Your friend Mutati tried his failed economic rants and fake jargon which led to him being sidelined. You can fool Zambians but not the IMF. They can dissect and seen through your lying hogwash meat to hoodwink ignorant PF cadres at state house. Be real and just say the real debt is now US17.5 billion and ask for mercy kkkkk.

  5. $9Bn is nothing. I would personally start getting worried if this figure hits the $50Bn dollar mark.
    Nothing to worry about here. $9,000,000,000 means every Zambian owes $1000 assuming an
    employable population of 9000,000 people. Surely ungagone panja na nkhongole ya K10,000?. That is nothing. That’s line one month rental of a two bedroom flat in Kabulonga.

    • A classic example of Myopic thinking at it’s best …. With the birth of social media; it is more visible.

    • If $9B is nothing why is IMF refusing to lend money to Zambia? Are you not ashamed that PF has accumulated so much debt within a very short time with nothing to show for? PF put the borrowed money in projects where it was easy to steal like construction of roads but unfortunately most of these roads add no economic value because they were constructed in residential areas and very remote places with no economic value. The only thing PF knows is merry making and building castles in the air. Bamambala imwee mwatushusha!

  6. It is okay we will pay it back! It won’t come from the pockets of privatisation thief HH or from his mother’s Namwala Animo Farm.

  7. An insight of the country’s current economic stance with with nonchalant ideas.The budgeting Committee, MOF need to work closely on the improvement of the Country’s GDP and strongly reduce on borrowing.Setting up fiscal policy’s and implementation is not a problem. It’s the mis-allocation of the limited resources and theft and the country keeps borrowing for expenditure purposes and not investments. Use realistic economic models and learn from countries like Botswana.

  8. Give some credit where its due The Economics of Zambia are positive and very optimistic in the sort to long-term When you read the brief by the minister and compare with others whose is deteriorating then you can see positivity’s in what the minister of Finance is there The core outlook for Zambia is is positive so is the credit environment improving and efficient, political non comparable in the region, trade terms competitively priced Fx and Financial markets performing to a better efficiency

    What she is saying there is that the risk for Investments and trades in Country Zambia’s assets and sectors is better than the moderate risks on the overall as…

  9. as being experienced by others regional and global with similar diversified The volatility in similar managed countries is higher than country Zambia with similar composites

  10. It is interesting to note that these moneys that some countries owe is relatively small money for some individuals. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO can pay this nation’s debt and that would still leave him with over 100 billion dollars…

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