Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zambia risks falling back into debt trap, says Siliya
By Kabanda Chulu
Sat 22 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

ZAMBIA risks falling back into a debt trap if the government doesn't create a transparent legal framework governing debt management, says MMD Petauke Central member of parliament Dora Siliya.

But acting finance Minister Emmanuel Chenda said the government had finalised preparations for the budget and planning Bill that will be tabled before the current session of Parliament.

And a report by the parliamentary committee on estimates has recommended that the government put in place mechanisms that will allow the Minister of Finance to circulate the draft budget to key stakeholders before presentation.

Chenda also assured that the government would soon develop a legal framework to guide debt contraction.

Seconding a motion of the report of the Estimates committee on Thursday, Siliya advised the government to safeguard debt contraction.

"There is lack of a comprehensive legal framework guiding debt contraction and people who appeared before the committee expressed concern that Zambia will go back into debt trap so government should open up this process," said Siliya.

"When Zambia reached HIPC, people were mobilised to support debt cancellation, so people should be informed whenever debts are contracted."

Contributing to debates, UPND Senanga member of parliament Likando Mufalali said Zambia would not develop without transparency.

"We want the budget Act so that portfolio committees can have insight of what the budget contains. The Ministry of Finance should also explain why they get funds allocated for the budget Act but the Bill is never brought to Parliament," said Mufalali.

But Chenda said government would consider recommendations made by the Committee.

"We are in total agreement with having transparency when making the budget. In the coming weeks, the budget and planning Bill will be circulated for consultation and then it shall be tabled here because we need to strengthen the oversight role of Parliament and to enhance its credibility," he said.

Chenda said the government was addressing debt management through various reforms.

"We shall have a legal framework governing debt management without waiting for the outcome of the constitution process," said Chenda.

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