The Government of the Republic of Zambia has held the third High Level Policy Dialogue Meeting focusing on the impact of the novel corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic and Zambia’s debt sustainability and management.
The Minister of National Development Planning Hon. Alexander Chiteme, MP, and Irish Ambassador to Zambia His Excellency Seamus O’Grady, who chairs the Cooperating Partners Group, co-chaired the High Level Policy Dialogue meeting.
Addressing the meeting, Mr. Chiteme said COVID-19 and debt sustainability and management are at the core of Zambia’s development agenda and pose a great risk in the attainment of the objectives set in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).
The Minister also informed the meeting that Zambia has commenced the preliminary activities for the preparation of the 8th National Development Plan (8NDP).
“We project that the plan will be ready before the end of 2021 with implementation scheduled for 2022. In developing the next plan, a number of factors or developments are being taken in considerations and these include the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic, the performance of the 7NDP at mid-term review, as well as the current constrained macroeconomic environment. Internal government consultations are progressing well; and at an appropriate time, government will also engage you as our cooperating partners,” Mr. Chiteme said.
The Minister thanked and acknowledged the support that the Zambian Government has received from the Cooperating Partners in development.
“We are still counting on your unwavering and continued support as we strive to reach our vision 2030; and to deliver development and improved living standards for our people, without leaving anyone behind,” Mr. Chiteme said. “Thank you for your timely coming to our aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Combating covid-19 is a heavy task which Government could not tackle alone. Your quick action is indeed commendable, and demonstrated that Zambia can still count on its development partners and the global community in responding to any crisis of significant magnitude.”
The Minister also updated the Cooperating Partners that the Census of Population and Housing will be held in 2021.
He explained that the delay was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and constrained fiscal space.
“The Government has successfully undertaken censuses in the past and was equally determined to conduct the 2020 census of the population as per international standards. This important exercise could have provided useful preliminary information even as the country undertakes the formulation of the 8th National Development Plan,” Mr. Chiteme said. “However, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the postponement of most of pre-census activities, coupled with the constrained fiscal space, the Government could not proceed to hold the census as planned. The exercise will now instead be conducted next year, in 2021.”
The National Development Planning Minister said that the key census preparatory activities, including mapping of the entire country had successfully been completed, and the pilot census is underway.
Mr. Chiteme said: “Undertaking a census is a massive, complex and costly undertaking for any nation. Therefore, this important task should not be left to Government alone, hence my humble appeal to you, our development partners, to come on board as we plan to complete the census exercise in 2021.”
Speaking on behalf of Cooperating Partners, Ambassador O’Grady said the onslaught of COVID 19 has presented the world with unprecedented challenges, both socially and economically, in developing nations such as Zambia. He said the Cooperating Partners were committed to assist Zambia.
“We recognise that effective co-operation is based on shared values underpinned by good governance so that effective use of resources improves the lives of all Zambians. Yes, the current environment is challenging but today is an opportunity for us to reflect on the challenges ahead and engage in an honest reflection as to how they may be surmounted,” said Ambassador O’Grady.
And UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio assured that the UN family stands in solidarity with the Government of Zambia and its people to build back better through the COVID-19 multi-sectoral contingency and response plan, which constitutes a great foundation.
“Moving forward, we will need to go beyond this to protect development gains, and help the economy and households stay afloat,” said Dr. Gadio. “The United Nations in close collaboration with the Government has already started work on a series of national assessments looking at the impact of COVID-19 on education, gender equality, food security, health, nutrition, businesses and social welfare.”
Dr Gadio said the UN was fully cognisant of the efforts that the Zambian Government was making to fight against the outbreak of the African Migratory Locusts affecting country and its neighbours.
“The UN through FAO has developed and started implementing a USD 3.5 million Response Plan and has escalated its efforts to mobilise resources at regional level. Given the high potential threat on food security of the country, the UN still invites and welcomes Cooperating Partners to join in this fight,” said Dr. Gadio.
The Zambian Government delegation included the Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Hon. Olipa Phiri, Minister of Community Development Hon. Mulenga Kampamba Chewe, Minister of Finance represented by the Secretary to the Treasury Mr. Fredson Yamba, who all made presentations pertaining to their portfolios. Others were Ministry of National Development Planning – Permanent Secretary in charge of Development Cooperation, Monitoring and Evaluation Mr. Danies Chisenda, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary (Technical Services) Dr. Kennedy Malama and other senior government officials.
Cooperating Partners included Japanese Ambassador to Zambia Ryuta Mizuuchi, US Chargé d’Affaires David Young, and other envoys accredited to Zambia and heads of international organisations.
This is according to a media statement issued in Lusaka today by Ministry of National Developmet Planning Spokesperson Mr. Chibaula D. Silwamba.