Thursday, January 16, 2014

Good governance a crusade for every Zambian - Chikwanda

By Gift Chanda
Sat 16 Nov. 2013, 14:01 CAT

GOOD governance should be a crusade for every Zambian, says finance minister Alexander Chikwanda. Speaking in Lusaka yesterday when the Zambian and United States governments, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, exchanged letters to mark the commencement of the five-year implementation period of the Lusaka Water Supply and Drainage (LWSSD) Project, Chikwanda said America, which is financing the project, had raised concerns on governance issues in Zambia.

The water and drainage project, established through a bilateral agreement between Zambia and the US, is supported by the American people with a commitment of $354.8 million (K1.95 billion) of US government funding.

The project focuses on rehabilitating and upgrading water supply, sanitation and drainage infrastructure in select areas of Lusaka, with sustainability of investments supported through institution-strengthening activities.

"The implementation of this project could not have come at a better time," Chikwanda said.

"The existing water and sanitation infrastructure in Lusaka is dilapidated and its capacity has been overwhelmed by the rapid population growth of over two million people compared to 134,000 at independence."

He said the investment would cushion this heavy burden by rehabilitating, and in some cases, building new infrastructure.

"However, there has been issues which have been raised like governance and it is for our own benefit that these issues have come up because good governance is good for any country, if it wants to develop," Chikwanda said.

He said the danger with bad governance is that it diverts resources meant for development.

"So the concerns that the American people have raised are concerns which ourselves, should embrace," Chikwanda said.

"They are concerns which should be a crusade on our part because we all have to benefit from good governance."

Earlier, United States embassy Charge d' Affairs, David Young, explained that reliable water, sanitation and drainage systems would improve the health of Zambians as well as catalyse economic growth and poverty reduction.

The grant for the project, which has been channelled through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government agency, has to be utilised within the five-year period or risk being returned to the US treasury.

Secretary to the Treasury, Fredson Yamba, said there was need to expedite works to ensure that no single dollar was returned.

"Work starts now. The compact period cannot be extended," said Yamba who is also the board chairperson of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Zambia.

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