Former Finance Minister Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu has said that the statement that the United Party for National Development (UPND) government has inherited an empty treasury is at best lacking in clarity.
Dr. Ng’andu has since challenged Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokokwane to state the exact figures the new government found in the government reserves.
Speaking to journalists in Lusaka today, Dr. Ng’andu said with the sustainable increase in the price of copper during the first half of this year and running into the third quarter of the year, the government saw a consistent rise of the foreign reserve position to over US$1.6 billion.
Dr. Ng’andu said that Zambia’s Debt remains as given to Parliament last year, refuting claims that there is hidden debt. and that IMF concerns were only the price of petroleum products, price of electricity to consumers.
“The assertions that our debt numbers were understated are not true. We have never hidden any debt. The IMF has never questioned our debt figures. The IMF never doubted our numbers” Dr. Bwalya Ngandu
“Debts sustainability negotiations are only possible if you disclose the correct figures” Dr. Bwalya Ngandu
“We challenge anyone who claims that our debt numbers were understated, to show us who the new creditors are,” Dr. Ng’andu
before adding, “To say we owe $38billion is total nonsense, someone must do their maths lessons again” Dr. Bwalya Ngandu
“If you declare a lower figure and the restructuring is based on the figure, you will not achieve your objectives of arriving at a new debt level that your economy will be able to manage. The declaration of a debt figure that is lower than the actual debt is a meaningless act of self-deception because the remedy will not be adequate to deal with the problem at hand,” he said.
“The proposition that there is hidden debt somewhere suggests that somebody has found what was hidden because it goes without saying that if you have not found what was hidden, then you don’t know what was hidden.”
He added that the former ruling party will obviously be keen to see who the creditors are and the amounts that were obtained.
“Debt service restructuring was initiated by the government to deal with the debt challenge in December 2019 out of its recognition that the current debt position was unsustainable and needed to be addressed. This cabinet directed that the contraction of new commercial loans should cease, all approved loans for which no disbursements have been made should be canceled, approved loans for which only a small component of the loan has been disbursed should have the undisbursed component canceled and finally that a selected number of loans should be rescoped downwards effectively reducing the size of loans. These measures were proactively implemented,” he stated.