Zambia opposition takes on gov't over public debt situation

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/12/6 9:38:36

Zambian opposition political parties on Tuesday took the government to task over the country's public debt situation following revelations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Zambia has the highest debt levels in sub-Saharan Africa.

On Monday, IMF Resident Representative Alfredo Baldini said Zambia's public debt levels had been increasing rapidly on unsustainable pace, making the country at risk of debt distress over the years while the economy has been growing at a very low pace.

But the government has insisted that the debt levels were within acceptable threshold despite being on the rise.

Hakainde Hichilema, the country's leading opposition leader and an economist by profession, said the country's public debt has become a time bomb that will consign the country's future generations to perpetual poverty.

"The International Monetary Fund has confirmed what we have always said, that Zambia is one of the countries with the largest debt stock in sub-Saharan Africa. When we raised alarm on excessive borrowing by the government and the reckless manner in which they were using the borrowed resources, we were called all sorts of names," he said in a statement.

The opposition leader has since challenged the government to explain how it has utilized borrowed resources as well as provide a clear plan on how they would repay the debt.

Antonio Mwanza, spokesperson of the opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), said the country's finance minister has not been honest with regards to the debt situation the country was currently in.

He said it was clear from the IMF revelation that the talks over a possible bailout package have collapsed becauSe of the unsustainable debt situation.

Nevers Mumba, leader of a faction of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and former Zambian vice-president, said he has written to the IMF to give the country's true debt position after the government allegedly failed to provide the information, according to local media.

He said he has been forced to write to the IMF after the finance minister failed to respond to two letters he wrote to him seeking clarification on the true debt position for the country.

According to government figures, Zambia's public debt stood at 12.45 billion US dollars as at August 2017, representing 47 percent of Gross Domestic Product, with the external debt standing at 7.5 billion US dollars.

Posted in: AFRICA

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