Government has set aside US$ 20 million to implement the mortgage finance program for rehabilitation, construction and purchase of properties in various Zambian Missions abroad.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Dr. Ronald Simwinga says a Cabinet Memorandum was recently tabled to grant authority for Missions abroad to acquire mortgages for construction and purchase of properties aimed at reducing expenditure on rented chanceries and residences for diplomatic staff.
Dr. Simwinga said this when he addressed diplomats at the Zambian Embassy after inspecting Government properties in Washington D.C. together with officials from the Ministry of Works and Supply.
He said funds are now available to start the renovations of stalled works of the prestigious Kalorama Zambian property situated in the Embassy row as soon as contractual issues with the contractor are sorted out.
“In the 2018 budget, Government has a mortgage financing line of US$ 1.2 million for the Mission in Washington D.C and the Ministry will resubmit the Cabinet Memorandum to include new aspects of financing that have emerged overtime.
“The essence of the mortgage financing program is to ensure that as and when these rehabilitation of chanceries, new acquisition of houses are taking place there must be a pool of funds available to support these projects. The funds have now been allocated to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and what we are waiting for is a budget line from concerned Missions to support spending of funds,” Dr. Simwinga said.
The Permanent Secretary said the Ministry of Finance will soon present to Parliament a Budget Supplementary Bill to seek approval to spend the additional funding to include other Missions abroad such as Berlin and Nairobi among others facing similar challenges.
Dr Simwinga also disclosed that Government is reviewing the Foreign Service Regulations and Conditions of Service to address the challenges the civil service is facing in Missions abroad. He further reiterated Government’s commitment to rollout the Diaspora Policy to engage Zambians living abroad to contribute to national development as Government recognizes the diaspora as key stakeholder to national development.