By Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
They will not want you to hear this, but the real total public debt has now eclipsed our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Here is rundown of disclosed public debt so far: External = $10.23bn, Internal: Guarantees = $1.2bn, Securities = K60.7bn, Domestic arrears = K20.2bn, VAT refunds = K22bn.
The aggregate of these liabilities is just a few notches shy of $20bn, while our real GDP, if we factor in exchange losses associated with a dipping Kwacha will not beat $26bn as at December 2019. The public are cautioned to be extremely weary of further undisclosed debt, especially from China, as well as debt held by our various parastatals. This is why the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) must be as transparent as possible in making public the aggregate debt figure attributable to SOEs.
All the foregoing taken into account point to a debt mountain that is now above 100% of our GDP.
We are here today because the PF’s claim to superstardom has been a poorly orchestrated infrastructure development narrative whose funding has been nothing short of dubious, while the workmanship across many of our public projects has been woefully poor.
Let us be clear: Zambians want good infrastructure for development. But Zambians want these to be executed sustainably, to the extent that the projects should be able to yield the required return to be able to pay off it’s associated debt money. Zambians also want quality workmanship, as opposed to substandard, cheaply acquired works who lifespan falls way short of the life of the debt associated with these projects.
And this has been the failure of the PF around infrastructure development. They have failed to project fund sustainably and they have failed to ensure quality workmanship across many of the projects.
This is nothing short of criminal and economic espionage against the Zambian people.
Today, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) are saying the PF owes close to $2bn in VAT refunds, while an aggregate $10bn has been sucked out of the local economy in local borrowing. The tragedy of this story is that only a very small fraction of this debt money has actually gone into productive areas of our economy. One only has to take a look at successive Auditor General’s Reports, FIC and other barometers to draw the conclusion that much of this money has actually been stolen!
And thanks to the duplicity and conniving conduct of PF leaders, including State House, Zambians will now have to pay a very heavy price for the poor, selfish decision making of the PF government.
We have to be weary, that a vote for the PF in 2021 will be an endorsement of what has been their diabolical inability to do a very simple job – to take care of Zambians.
We need to have a new and honest national conversation around social and economic reforms. For example, how have the PF allowed NAPSA to continue sitting on piles of cash while consistently failing to pay retirees’ benefits? How has the PF continued to allow President Lungu, the Veep and government Ministers to enjoy health tourism services abroad, while lying to Zambians that they are making “massive, unprecedented” investments in the health sector?
And how has this tinkering, inept PF government allowed for the rule of law to be applied selectively to different citizens and societal stakeholders, leading to the creation of a class society?
What a joke of a government!
The foregoing sits at the heart of the poor and general lack of community development across our vast country.
The macro economy is broken and it has sucked the life out of the micro economy.
In 2021, we must be bold and decisive and not blink in booting the PF out of power.
We cannot afford another lost 5 years. We simply cannot. The damage will be impossible to undo in our lifetime.