Monday, June 17, 2024

CUTS demands Government makes public information on Zambia’s current debt situation


Consumer Unity Trust Society – CUTS has demanded that the Government makes public information on Zambia’s current debt situation.

CUTS has also urged the Government to do more in addressing the high cost of living in the country.
Speaking during a media briefing, CUTS Acting Centre Director Angela Mulenga implored the Government to work in close collaboration with stakeholders in order to inform the citizenry on the country’s debt situation as well as publishing a timeline for debt restructuring in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

Ms Mulenga said that the Government should make public information on Zambia’s current debt, adding that the Ministry of Finance and National Planning should expedite the establishment of a debt office that will play a key role in providing oversight.

“It is now up to the Minister to lead the way in establishing an office that will be incharge of overseeing the disclosure of information of the country’s debt and debt restructuring,” she stated
Ms Mulenga said that the Government should engage with various stakeholders in order to help make public information on the country’s public debt restructuring.

“We urge the Government to work with Civil Society Organisations – CSOs and the media that will help them disseminate information on Zambia’s public debt and restructuring as this will benefit the citizens,” she said

Meanwhile, Ms Mulenga said that the Government should do more in addressing the high cost of living which has been high in 2022 and negatively affecting many Zambians who have been distressed by it, despite improved economic performance as indicated by the stable foreign exchange rate and single digit inflation.

She noted that going forward, the Government should ensure efficiency in the implementation of the ongoing expansion of the social cash transfer programme to cushion the vulnerability of citizens in 2023, adding that there should also be enhanced measures in monitoring the planned increase of resources towards health and education sectors to achieve the intended impact.

“CUTS International appreciates the increase in the Constitution Development Fund- CDF from K25.7 million to K 28.3 million in 2023 national budget but that there is need to review the CDF Act number 11 of 2018,” she said

Ms Mulenga added that this will help to simplify the CDF guidelines and enable citizens to have access to the Funds.

And CUTS Programmes Officer Allan Chanda Chitwamali mentioned during the same media briefing that engaging the media and various stakeholders such as Civil Society Organisations will enable the citizens to have an easy access to information on debt and publishing a debt timeline will be made effective.

Mr Chitwamali disclosed that it is critical for the country to have a functioning office that will oversee the debt restructuring process.

“What will make of this new law is how it will be implemented, as we have issues to do with the public debt office which is something that is permanently featured in the new law and this has not yet been established and considering that we are in the position where we are now, restructuring of debt is something that is very critical and having an office that is functioning to oversee to it that we have a restructuring that favours the Zambian population,” Mr Chitwalamali explained

Meanwhile, WaterAid Representative Chama Bowa noted during the same media briefing, that there is a need to upscale investments in the human and social development sectors.

“When you look at the 2023 National Budget, we have noted quite a number of issues relating to water supply, sanitation and hygiene, as there is a pronouncement in the Budget stating that every Government facility in the country that is education, health, judiciary and local markets and bus stations should have access to clean water supply and sanitation,” she said

Zambia’s economic performance and its debt sustainability has continued to be a concern to citizens and stakeholders, hence, the Civil Society Organisations imploring the Government to ensure that transparency and oversight mechanisms are enforced to make certain that fiscal controls are strengthened and sustained, and reduce there desire for domestic borrowing.

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