All state enterprises intact, claims Lungu

By Staff Reporter

 

President Edgar Lungu has maintained that the country is not in a debt distress as widely believed.

And Lungu said all state enterprises were intact, none of them had been sold.

Officially opening the World Banks’s International Development Association (IDA) Mid-term Review Meeting Tuesday morning, Lungu urged delegates not to believe what he termed media propaganda.

While admitting the country’s heavy indebtedness, Lungu, however claimed that Zambia had never defaulted on debt serving.

‘’Don’t listen to propaganda in some news media. You can see for yourselves and when you have questions talk to us. Of course, you can verify any information with any fair-minded individuals and institutions. You will learn that we are an open book,’’ he told delegates in Livingstone. ‘’Yes, Zambia has debt challenges in respect of spending on debt servicing as a ratio to spending on social protection and social services. But hear it from me, we are not in distress. Zambia has never defaulted on its dues and we remain committed not to fall into that situation.’’

He said the government was taking measures towards a situation where only concessional and very low interest loans would be acceptable as additional sources of financing when local resources were not available.

Lungu further assured those who subscribed to the country’s Eurobonds that they would be paid back.

‘’We shall borrow money when we need to, but only for investment into absolutely needy areas. That we have borrowed in the recent past has gone a long way into investments into public infrastructure critically necessary for economic development,’’ Lungu claimed. ‘’When we trade with partners, we do so conscious that we are a full member of the international community of nations. So, those we owe money through Eurobonds can be assured that their money is safe with us; those we owe money through bilateral arrangements can be rest assured that we are a credible partner with a long-established record in that regard.’’

And Lungu told delegates that none of the state enterprises had been sold.

He nevertheless repeated his administration’s resolve to list all of them on the Lusaka Stock Exchange.

‘’Zambia has not sold or mortgaged any of its assets to any lenders be they bilateral, multilateral or commercial partners. None of these state-owned enterprises has been sold to any foreign entity but we intend to progressively list them on the stock market to make them more viable and more transparently run,’’ said Lungu.

‘’Listing on the open market is highly recommended by both the World Bank and the IMF and so we intend to transform out state-owned enterprises into more viable entities through that route. You may have heard falsehoods about purported sale of our national power utility company (ZESCO), our national broadcaster (ZNBC), and our forestry company (ZAFFICO): I am here as President to tell you that please ignore such rumours and seek credible government information.’’