By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
GOVERNMENT should avoid giving premature statements on the state of public debt which is close to US$15 billion and have one consolidated position informed by facts, the , Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) has said.
Zambia’s total Government external debt as at June 2021, stood at US$14.48 billion including money owed by state companies.
Excluding parastatal debt, Zambia’s external debt in that month was estimated at $12.91 billion, according to Government official statistics.
Responding to these statistics, Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) Executive Director Isaac Mwaipopo, expressed concern on the inconsistencies in the pronouncements made by Government officials on the stock of public debt.
Mr Mwaipopo stressed the need for Government to have one consolidated position informed by facts obtaining, as this was key to finding solutions to the current debt crisis.
“CTPD further urges Government to avoid giving premature statements on the state of public debt.
“We have observed with concern, inconsistencies in the pronouncements made by the Republican President and the Minister of Finance on the stock of public debt, with earlier pronouncements pointing to a possible hidden debt stock under the previous administration,” he said.
CTPD, Mr Mwaipopo said also called on Government through the Ministry of Finance to consider building local consensus on the key economic reforms it planned to institute while engaging cooperating partners for technical or financial support.
He said it would be critical for the new administration to take a more consultative approach in their work as some of the policy promises they made might need adjustments for them to deliver inclusive development.
He indicated the need for Government to set clear and accurate measures and guidelines on how for instance, they planned on creating more jobs and running a 24-hours economy as recently pronounced.
Mr Mwaipopo said it was necessary for Government to remain transparent and engage relevant stakeholders to achieve an inclusive and thriving economy in the different key sectors.
“CTPD thinks that Government should prioritise building consensus with its people on all key economic policy reforms as the people are the ones who get to live with the consequences of policy actions, good or bad.
“Moreover, there has been a growing debate on whether an IMF deal is inevitable for Zambia or not, as other stakeholders hold the view that we could do more to exploit local solutions to the economic challenges that we face before we look outside,” he said.