By SILUMESI MALUMO
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed Minister of Finance Bwalya Ng’andu to create a Covid-19 recovery fund to support SMEs which have been negatively affected by the pandemic.
He has also directed the Minister of Commerce and Industry Christopher Yaluma to ensure that chain stores prioritise local products from farmers.
President Lungu said the recovery fund should be disbursed to the small businesses which have been badly affected during this period.
Mr Lungu said during the national address at State House yesterday that this was the only way to ensure that businesses thrive amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
“I urge the Minister of Finance to also find other sources to beef up the Covid-19 recovery fund in order for more enterprises can benefit,” President Lungu said.
The President said the K10 billion which was released earlier would be part of the recovery funds to help enterprises which had been hit hardest.
“I am asking the Minister of Finance to pursue other options in order to secure more resources to help our SMEs who have been hit hardest. These funds will be disbursed to small businesses.
The K10bn which I earlier announced would be part of the recovery funds but we need to find other sources to beef up the Covid-19 recovery fund so that more of our SMEs who have been affected badly can benefit,” President Lungu has said.
Mr Lungu also urged commercial banks to give loans to SMEs and households who had been affected during this period.
Meanwhile, President Lungu directed the minister of Commerce and Industry to ensure that chain storeS bought agriculture products from the local farmers.
He said that during this period it was important that local products were prioritised and stopped the dependency on importation.
This is the only way we can make our country’s economy to thrive amid Covid-19, he said.
Mr Lungu pointed out that chain stores would only be able to import products which they cannot source from local farmers.
He also appealed to farmers to create cooperatives so that they can be able to product quality products.
President Lungu observed the need for restaurants, salons, barbershops to operate normally but adhere to the laid down measures by the Ministry of Health.
He said failure to do so it would attract penalties or operating licences would be revoked.
And President Lungu said Government has released K500 million to pay retirees, K170 million to clear outstanding arrears and K140 million to pay off road contractors.
He urged the Finance minister to release K1 billion to pay the suppliers of goods and services.
By SILUMESI MALUMO