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CHINESE DEBT STANDS AT $ 6.18 BILLION – MINISTER

By SIMON MUNTEMBA

THE total public sector debt to Chinese creditors as at end June 2021 is US$ 6.18 billion, Finance minister Situmbeko Musokotwane has said.

Dr Musokotwane said Chinese creditors were owed US$5.95 billion and interest arrears which amounted to US$225.5 million at the end of the second quarter.

He told Parliament in a ministerial statement yesterday that US$4.47 billion was owed by central government to Chinese creditors while US$1.34 billion is owed by state owned enterprises, mainly Zesco, on facilities guaranteed by the central government.

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Dr Musokotwane said the balance of US$139.60 million is owed by Zesco on Chinese facilities that are not guaranteed by the central government.

“This debt position towards China that I have presented includes only amounts that have been drawn and are outstanding plus principal arrears, but does not include interest arrears which amounted to us $225.5 million at the end of the second quarter,” he said.

And Dr Musokotwane clarified that the Zambia’s external debt stood at US$14.67 billion, as recorded the end of the first quarters of 2021.

The minister said this in Parliament yesterday when he was responding to MpikaCentral Member of Parliament (MP) Francis Kapyanga who wanted to know who was telling the truth on the public debt between the Minister and the President. 

“Who is telling the truth between you Hon. Minister and His Excellency the President on debt situation. There has been inconsistency in your statements?” MrKapyanga asked.

In response, Dr Musokotwane said,  “it  is possible that he (President Hichilema) had also other loans in mind signed for, and therefore, for me I don’t see any inconsistencies.” 

He said it was important to understand that there were different approaches to reporting financial matters. 

The minister said the numbers that he indicated in his report were based on the amount of loans that had actually been disbursed.

“But that does not mean that that’s the end of the story. In the meantime, there are other loans whereby contracts have been signed, and as far as those loans are concerned, those have been signed for. But the international reporting standard is that there must be reports on the loans were disbursements have been done.

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