The United Kingdom Department for International Development [DFID] has confirmed receipt of US$ 2.7 Million which was refunded by the Zambian Government following concerns raised by the United Kingdom on utilization of social cash transfer programme resources.
Last month the UK based Africa Confidential reported that the Zambian government was diverting donor funds meant for social sector spending to make debt repayments.The UK’s DFID then suspended its funding to Zambia and demanded restitution.The British Government also confirmed that it has frozen all funding to the Zambian Government following allegations of widespread corruption in the PF Government.UK High Commissioner to Zambia Fergus Cochrane-Dyet confirmed that London had cut all bilateral funding to Zambia until all audit queries are addressed.
However the Zambian Government said the money had not been misused and remained unutilised in a ZANACO bank account.The Government then wrote to the British government over its intentions to pay back the 2.7 million pounds which was meant for beneficiaries under the social cash transfer.
DFID Director General Lindy Cameron said in Bali, Indonesia, this afternoon, that she is grateful to Zambia for honouring their request. She said this during a bilateral meeting with Zambia’s Minister of Finance, Margaret Mwanakatwe.
Ms. Cameron added that once the results of the social cash transfer programme forensic audit are finalised and appropriate action taken, the DFID will engage Zambian authorities to chart the path for resumption of positive development cooperation.
The Senior United Kingdom Government Official also took the opportunity to invite Mrs. Mwanakatwe to the Africa Investment Forum which will be held in London in 2019. She said DFID will be on hand to assist Zambia in preparing for the 2019 UK/Africa Investment Forum.
Ms. Cameron further said that the recent visit of the British Prime Minister Theresa May to Africa gave the British leader a clearer perspective on the need to develop new partnerships with Africa and using London as a hub for private sector partnership development. She added that the agenda for new partnerships with African based private sector institutions is a priority for the British Government in their aspiration to generate long-term development cooperation.
Zambia’s macro-economic situation was also discussed, during the UK/Zambia bilateral meeting attended by Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Christopher Mvunga.
Speaking at the same meeting, Mrs. Mwanakatwe said the Zambian Government had taken decisive steps to demonstrate its commitment to the implementation of the new Public Financial Management Act, 2018, by taking the necessary administrative action against officials who were expected to ensure that there was prudence in the utilization of social cash transfer resources.
The Minister emphasised that the Public Financial Management Act is the whip with which public service workers who will be found wanting in the management and utilization of public resources will be sanctioned and punished severely.
Mrs. Mwanakatwe also assured the United Kingdom Official that despite the turbulence’s related to the general public debt, the Government is implementing reforms and measures that are aimed at ensuring that there is stabilisation and growth in the economy.
She affirmed that the country had not only implemented a debt management strategy and but also implemented a system for dismantling domestic arrears.
The Minister also confirmed that social protection funds totaling K2.1 billion have been provided for in the 2019 National Budget. She further stated that the Government will continue to treat concerns which were raised by stakeholders on the utilization of public resources, with the deserved seriousness.
The Minister took the opportunity to announce that she will be traveling to Europe and America for a non-deal-road-show for Zambia’s bond holders and prospective investors.
This morning Mrs. Mwanakatwe and her delegation attended the World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings Plenary addressed by Indonesian President, Joko Widod, IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde and World Bank President,Jim Yong Kim.