Prioritise support to young entrepreneurs, women, Mwanakatwe prods banks

By Staff Reporter


FINANCE minister Margrate Mwanakatwe has prodded banks to prioritise lending money to young entrepreneurs and women


Speaking during the First National Bank (FNB) Zambia 10th year anniversary dinner held at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka on Monday, Mwanakatwe tipped the bank to lead the way in lowering lending rates for young entrepreneurs and women.


She noted that young entrepreneurs would be clients of the bank for much longer while women had excellent credit scores due to their financial discipline and commitment to agreements.


“For any economy, having non-performing-loans at over 11 per cent is not healthy. We need programmes which will help borrowers to understand that when they borrow, they must make money to repay the money they borrowed,” Mwanakatwe said.


“As FNB and other investors contemplate many more years of successful operations in Zambia, the government remains committed to nurturing an environment in which the growth of the private sector is enabled to the extent that the banking and financial services and products contribute; as a priority, to the growth of young entrepreneurs and women and on a wider scale, to rendering tangible support to viable small and medium-scale enterprises across all regions of the country.”


The minister assured that the measures that the government put in place in this year national budget and the economic stabilisation and growth programme were undertakings to set a sound foundation for improved economic management, sustained positive growth and enhanced well-being of Zambians, “without leaving anyone behind.”


She added that the government was cognisant of the bank’s overall track record and positive reputation, built over the last decade.


“It is, therefore, important that the bank should continue to work at maintaining and growing its positive reputation and footprint not only in the jurisdictions in which it operates, but also in the individual minds of its clients in various places,” Mwanakatwe said.


“By showing loyalty to the products and services offered to them by FNB, a South African establishment, the bank’s clients in Zambia have demonstrated their understanding of regional integration and the complementarity of local and foreign investments in the development of the nation. Notably, from 2009 to date, the bank has played an instrumental part in the growth of our agricultural sector, a key focal point for the Zambian government in the process of economic diversification and industrialisation.”


And Mwanakatwe hailed FNB, saying it had, without doubt, not only helped to change the landscape of banking in Zambia but that it had operated “in line with the government’s developmental thrust while still making their return on investment.”


“And they have been paying their taxes on time….” she said.


Meanwhile, Mwanakatwe took time to ‘repeat’ herself on the progress made towards the implementation of sales tax, whose implementation has since been deferred from April 1to July 1 this year.


“In my address, I indicated that extensive consultations, but not exhaustive, have been made and a draft bill is ready for first reading tomorrow, Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019. Since Parliament adjourns tomorrow (Tuesday) itself, the bill will be deferred to the June session for the second and third readings and other processes that follow,” explained Mwanakatwe.


“During the intervening period, the bill will undergo further stakeholder consultations through the parliamentary committee. My ministry will also interact with different players in the economy. You are all implored to take part in these refinement consultations when they commence. All things being equal and proceeding as planned, the proposed date of commencement of sales tax is 1st of July, 2019.”