Zambia’s external debt rises to US$10 billion – Mwanakatwe

By Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Finance has disclosed that Zambia’s external debt as at December, 2018 stood at US$10.05 billion compared to the US$8.74 billion at the end of 2017.

Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe said in a statement that the rise is attributed to increased disbursements on previously contracted loans for on-going economic infrastructure programmes aimed at supporting economic diversification and structural transformation.

Mwanakatwe said that external debt service during the period was US$759.9 million while government guaranteed debt stood at US$1.3 billion.
“Public debt has in the recent past attracted a lot of debate,” she said, adding that Government remained committed to moving back the debt to moderate risk of distress and meeting its debt obligations.

Mwanakatwe said domestic debt stood at K58.3 billion at the end of 2018 compared to K48.4 billion in 2017.

The Finance Minister said the increase was partly due to the Government’s effort to realign the composition of Zambia’s public debt in line with the Medium-Term-Debt-Strategy.

“Domestic debt service in 2018 was K8.20 billion compared to K5.5 billion in 2017. At the close of 2018, total domestic arrears stood at K15.1 billion. In an effort to dismantle the arrears, a total of K4.5 billion was paid out in 2018 against the budget target of K1.3 billion,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mwanakatwe said the economy continued to show resilience in 2018 with growth projected at around 4 percent.

She said key sectors of the economy such as mining, electricity, manufacturing as well as financial services performed above expectation supported by a stable macroeconomic environment.
She said the mining sector growth is at around 6 percent with copper production increasing above 850,000 metric tonnes in 2018 compared to 797,000 metric tonnes in 2017.

“The performance was supported by the continued investment in the sector as well as favourable global copper prices,” she said.