ActionAid Zambia has said that the Zambia Government re-engage Bondholders and Seek Sustainable Solutions to Debt Problems.
In a statement released to the media, ActionAid Zambia said that Zambia defaulted on its interest payments on the US$3 Billion Eurobonds as of Friday 13th November 2020 and urged government to re-engage bondholders regarding the six (6) months interest payment relief hoping that bondholders would reconsider the status quo and demonstrate a measure of humanity, and recognize the suffering that its actions will inflict on millions of Zambian women and children who are already living in poverty.
Below is the full statement
GOVERNMENT MUST RE-ENGAGE BONDHOLDERS AND SEEK SUSTAINABLE
SOLUTIONS TO OUR DEBT PROBLEM.
Zambia defaulted on its interest payments on the US$3 Billion Eurobonds as of Friday 13th November 2020. This came in the wake of bondholders rejecting government’s request for six (6) months interest payment relief.
As ActionAid Zambia, we are concerned with the latest developments on two fronts: worsening credit ratings with dwindling prospects to attract future financing and consequences/penalties arising from this default. Fitch ratings, a credit rating agency already downgraded Zambia to almost junk status after government sought to delay interest payments to bondholders in September 2020. As a developing country, Zambia needs attract sustainable foreign investment which responds to the economic needs of the country. However, with a poor credit rating this will affects investor confidence and eventually lead to capital flight. This may further weaken the economy by the possible contraction of GDP as well as currency depreciation.
We would therefore like to urge government to re-engage bondholders regarding the six (6) months interest payment relief. Our hope is that bondholders reconsider the status quo and demonstrate a measure of humanity and recognize the suffering that its actions will inflict on millions of Zambian women and children who are already living in poverty. The vulnerable Zambians are the big losers in this case, as government will further be handcuffed in providing any gender responsive public services due to the rejection by bondholders to grant Zambia a debt interest payment relief.
It is our considered view that the debt relief will be necessary to ensure that the most vulnerable Zambians do not suffer the consequences of the country’s debt mismanagement amidst Covid-19. On the other hand, the Zambian government must also genuinely seek to address some of the issues and concerns raised by bondholders such as lack of transparency regarding Chinese loans and government not having a clear strategy on public debt management. Chinese lending institutions, whether state-run or quasi-commercial, should clearly state how much they have lent to our government and the loan terms and conditions involved. The Zambian government should also be more transparent on its borrowings and finances and provide a clear strategy on public debt management which is key in assuring lenders our commitment towards debt sustainability.
More importantly, we would like to remind the government that in as much as seeking debt interest payment relief seems to be the only way to go for Zambia. It is, however, suffice to note that this is not enough. Government should explore and pursue a more sustainable path of restoring fiscal discipline, commitment to good economic governance with zero tolerance to corruption.
Nalucha Nganga Ziba
Country Director, ActionAid Zambia