Patriotic Front -PF- Secretary General Hon Davies Mwila
Patriotic Front -PF- Secretary General Hon Davies Mwila

By Hon Davies Mwila

INTRODUCTION

The previous article discussed some factors negatively affecting the global economy such as the U.S-Sino Trade War, U.S Auto Tariffs and No-Deal Brexit, which have led IMF and World to cut global and African economic growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020, with the U.S economy predicted to see a significant economic slowdown growing by only 1.9% in 2020.

In addition to the above factors, the Zambian economy has been negatively affected by adverse weather conditions which have negatively affected the agriculture and energy sector, and the entire economy. This challenge and policy interventions under implementation by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government will be discussed in this article.

THE STATE OF THE ZAMBIAN ECONOMY

In his speech during the official opening of the National Assembly on 13th September, 2019, His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu stated:

“Our economy has, in the recent past, faced some serious headwinds. The country registered a Gross Domestic Product growth rate of 3.7 percent as at end of 2018. The growth rate for 2019 was earlier projected at around 4% but is being revised downwards to about 2% on account of adverse weather conditions, which has affected the energy and agricultural sectors.

Since 2015, when we experienced droughts that affected electricity generation, growth slowed down to an average of 3.5 percent between 2015 and 2018 from an average of 6.4 percent between 2011 and 2014. This slowdown was largely attributed to climate variabilities.

Our fiscal space must continue to grow, and this can only be achieved by ensuring macroeconomic stability and maintaining debt within sustainable levels. We have procured debt for development, which is one of the many financing options that we pursue. We can see it in the road infrastructure, bridges, alternative power generation investments, including but not limited to massive infrastructure development in the health, education and communications sector. This we all can see and attest to”.

MACROECONOMIC STABILITY AND DEBT SUSTAINABILITY

In order to ensure macroeconomic stability and maintain debt within sustainable levels as stated by President Lungu above, the PF Government, through the Ministry of Finance, has put in place the following measures.

1. DEBT SUSTAINABILITY ANALYSIS

The rise in public debt over the years has obviously raised concern among the general citizenry and other stakeholders in Zambia and the international community. True to it, debt can accelerate growth through investment in growth enhancing projects. However, when debt is accumulated to levels where it causes a debt overhang, it can lead to deceleration in growth and provision of social services (Source: Ministry of Finance).

The PF Government will not let Zambia’s economy go into deceleration or fail to provide social services! As President Lungu said in his speech above:

“The Patriotic Front Manifesto articulates the collective aspirations of our people for a better life, which gives this assurance, and I quote: _‘we are committed to meeting and exceeding these expectations of the people of Zambia”.

Indeed, prudent debt management calls for regular checks on our debt to ascertain whether we are on the sustainability track or the unsustainability track. Government therefore conducts regular debt sustainability analyses to inform policy decisions with regard to prudent debt management. The critical indicators of sustainable debt considered under a DSA exercise include the county’s capacity to carry its debt, which is measured against the county’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the capacity to service debt obligations, which is measured against the country’s revenues. The Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) conducted by Government in April 2018 revealed that if no measures are taken on the debt, the public debt to GDP ratio (domestic and external debt) would go above 60% in the medium term, above the sustainability threshold of 56%. _(Source: Ministry of Finance).

As stated by President Lungu in the abovementioned speech:

“The art of borrowing is the ability to pay back. Yes, I am aware that there is accumulation of domestic arrears which has not only negatively impacted the operations of suppliers and contractors, but also on the performance of the financial sector through an increase in non-performing loans…. This has got to be managed”.

And, this is being managed through policy responses below.

2. POLICY RESPONSE TO THE DSA RESULTS

The DSA results dictated the need for adjustment to avoid getting the country into a position of debt distress.

Following the outcome of the DSA, Government, through the Ministry of Finance, announced measures, in July 2018, anchored on the DSA and MTDS as follows;

1) Postponement of the contraction of all pipeline external debt until the high risk of debt distress is brought to a moderate level.

2) Cancellation some of the contracted loans that have not disbursed, in order to reduce the debt service burden.

3) Undertaking an asset liability exercise on selected loans to extend the maturity profile and attain lower interest costs.

4) Cease issuance of guarantees to commercially viable projects.

5) Cessation of the issuance of Letters of Credit and Sovereign Guarantees to institutions that are technically insolvent until their balance sheet challenges are resolved. _(Source: Ministry of Finance, Zambia).

Through these and other measures, the PF Government will be constraining the primary balance and attracting concessional financing for the Budget to mitigate the adverse implications of high debt service in the medium term by curtailing the accumulation of debt and reorganizing the current debt portfolio in order to minimize costs and mitigate the risks associated with it; in line with PF Government’s 2017-2019 Medium Term Debt Strategy (MTDS) which outlines Government’s plan over the medium term with regards to fiscal and debt management.

FISCAL RESTRAINT

As revealed by the DSA, fiscal restraint, aimed at achieving low levels of primary balance deficit is critical. Control of the fiscal deficit is a high priority for the PF Government. In 2018 for example, without measures being undertaken, the deficit would have been higher at over 9% of GDP.

Over the Medium Term, the current Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) currently under preparation has taken into account the measures and adjustments particularly on the pipeline debt. (Source: Ministry of Finance).

EUROBOND REFINANCING

In view of the forthcoming Eurobond redemptions, Government is committed to the repayment of its liabilities, and is thus cognisant of the need for a structured redemption plan aimed at ensuring smooth redemption of the Eurobond debt. The Ministry of Finance has drafted a Eurobond Redemption Strategy (ERS) that is due for cabinet approval. The strategy is aimed at establishing an optimal plan for redeeming the bonds, taking into account Zambia’s fiscal and macroeconomic situation, as well as other factors that may influence the selection of a favourable redemption option.

The Eurobond refinancing strategy gives an array of options that include;

1. Implementation of a Sinking Fund. The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, which will soon be issued, will outline the provisions that Government has made for the Fund,

2. A debt buyback strategy, using the sinking fund provisions, and

3. Refinancing through issuance of a new tenure of Eurobonds in the capital markets.

Refinancing is not peculiar to Zambia. Countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Senegal and other emerging economies have in recent years gone to the market and successfully issued debt with the resources earmarked for bond redemption with longer maturities.

Why refinancing of the bonds?

The refinancing option ensures continued presence in the international capital markets, which offers opportunities for signaling to international investors on the state of economic affairs in the country and giving a risk indication for private sector borrowing in the country as Eurobonds are used for benchmarking. This was one of the objectives the country had at issuance of the Bonds. _(Source: Ministry of Finance)._

CONCLUSION:

Against the above global economic challenges, the PF Government has put in place several policy interventions to ensure macroeconomic stability, maintain debt sustainability, and achieve significant growth to achieve the Vision 2030 objective.

Zambia is currently NOT defaulting on its debt obligations and is therefore NOT in a debt crisis!

As President Lungu emphasized: _“the art of borrowing is the ability to pay back” and “we have procured debt for development… We can see it in the road infrastructure, bridges, alternative power generation investments, including but not limited to massive infrastructure development in the health, education and communications sector. This we all can see and attest to”.

The Author is Patriotic Front Secretary General

[Read 1,247 times, 1 reads today]
Loading...

16 COMMENTS

  1. Davis Mwila should not be the one talking to us about the state of the world’s, Europe or Zambia’s economy. Chibamba Kanyama, a veteran economist and broadcaster is of better pedigree and economic moral character, and one that informs us lay readers with valuable information.

    5

    3
    • Go Zambia, go! Don’t listen to naysayers who hate this country! Mr. President you are doing fine! Let’s develop this thing. He is UNELECTABLE.

      4

      12
    • Sharon 1.1 unlike most people commenting on Lusaka Times, I will speak on issues when need be. president Lungu is fighting hard for the country, but he needs to remove more than half of his crooked ministers. He needs to distance himself from people like Findley, and should let the minsitry of finance take stock of all finances with no senior PF interference. Zambia is a capable country, but people like Jean Kapata, Kampyongo, Chitotela and Nkandu Luo hold it back.

      7

      2
    • The advantage of living in an advanced developed country is that you are exposed to competent leadership and governance. If I were to do a comparative study, mamamama… Anyway all the best to mother Zambia in all her future endevours, but and that’s a big BUT, this PF bunch ain’t taking us anywhere, I swear to God. See yes, globaly economic growth has slowed, but in the US for example they would pass an economic policy like quantitative easing. Is it related to debt? NO! China will devalue its currency to contain the dollar. Is it related to debt and borrowing? NO! It’s called monetary policy. Meanwhile the smart leaders of these countries will be busy coming up with ways to make money for their countries through things like manufacturing, new venture creation etc. And not going back…

      3

      1
  2. iwe m wila sit your a ss down. what are you talking about comparing apples and oranges.
    you keep on insisting Zambia is not CURRENTLY not defaulting …be transparent and make your debts and debtors a public domain, let’s so how you’re borrowing, from whom and for what
    you can fool some people some time but you can’t fool all the people all the time

    1

    0
  3. When we say PF is “Chipantepante” this is what it means! When did Davis Mwila become an Economist? Why did he not ask the Minister of Finance to issue a statement in Parliament? We all know the performance of the economy where PF is concerned – Debt service from 17% of budget in 2011 to 51.6% in 2019: GDP growth of 7.4% in 2011 to less than 3% 2019; Debt of $1.9Billion in 2011 to over $15Billion with nothing to show for it except substandard roads! Dollar reserves of over $3Billion in 2011 down to less than a Billion in 2019! Mwabombeni mukwai ba former truck driver! Global challenges will always be there and should not be an excuse for poor performance!

    12

    1
  4. Will people eat road infrastructure, bridges, alternative power generation investments, including but not limited to massive infrastructure development in the health, education and communications sector. …..????

    3

    1
  5. The minister of energy cannot increase tariffs up to 75% given the Zambian fragile economy It will have an instant effect on CPI and Prices resulting in Inflationary Pressures.Then importation of power from eskom is at a high premium Eskom Power is most expensive power around and a cost pass through to low income earning Zambians households will be a counter productive to the gains of supplying that power

    The minister will need to work arround restricting exports to malawi and Congo and Ensure energy security He may not give that excuse in parliament that PPAs were signed long time because PPAs by nature carry a clause of Force majeure in any well crafted long-term…

    4

    0
  6. power purchase agreements Its not a case of deemed supply on those contracted capacity

    He needs to work around issues of energy efficiency and power balancing and upscale in the shor-term other sources of energy at households to ensure we reach mid 2020 when some rivers will flow to ensure maximum generation

    Even though e had to import for 6 months it will be unsustainable at those import and capacity tariffs and saying those who will not pay will be cut off simply erodes the revenue base for the ultility most needed cash flows

    Climate change is impacting and this far he has been right but increasing tariffs up to 75% will be catastrophic because of the fragile Zambian…

    0

    0
  7. economy like the SG has said above were climate change is impacting those generation methods
    He must also work within the Energy Policy environment framework and allow the best practice in cost of service study and justifications to e done He should prioritize energy balance and efficiency and promote other sources to increase the mix because its cost sustainable because of low productive use of energy or intensity

    1

    0
  8. The only indisputable fact is that PF has borrowed irresponsibly. I know one of their leaders said that there is no country which doesn’t borrow. Correct Sir, but everyone knows that even in a home you don’t borrow recklessly! Otherwise you maybe forced to sell your nieces.

    3

    3
  9. aside energy there to this topic;

    It’s true the economies of Eurozone led by Germany has failed to perform this year despite monetary policies implemented to address and revive the economies The ECB is working and to manage the euro to effect signals against the dollar and grow the exports and reduce cost of financing in these markets
    In response the FEDs are most likely trying to manage the economy create Jobs and growth the exports to perform the economy by cutting benchmark interest rates and manage inflation as a means and ways of mitigating the impact of trade war
    Good article by the SG and well written but the question in view of the above What is Zambia’s Monetary…

    0

    0
  10. Monetary policy Response to unwind FDIs and Flows even in these environments from the euro Asia and the Americas to effect positive account and national balances
    and is monetary policy any-workable in these environments here in Zambia where our collegues Investing have a carry trade tactics and practices especially those from the Brics countries ??

    0

    0

Comments are closed.