Thursday, September 03, 2015

(LUSAKATIMES) Current Economic Challenges facing Zambia are not unusual-Chikwanda

COMMENT - This is how they're softening up the economy for HIPC II. They should be in jail for fraud. And then there are the eurobonds, and the SI89 tax rebate to the mines. External factors - only if the Minister is talking about the IMF/World Bank. Fluctuation in copper prices can be protected against. However this is a government that is trying to paper over state mishandling of resources and corruption, with Eurobond debt loans. This is onerous debt and must not be repaid. Without massive legal and government reform, especially financially, Eurobonds are just more sources for corruption. - MrK

(LUSAKATIMES) Current Economic Challenges facing Zambia are not unusual-Chikwanda
September 3, 2015

Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda says the current economic challenges facing Zambia are not unusual. Mr Chikwanda said this is not the first time that Zambia is undergoing economic challenges caused purely by external forces. Mr Chikwanda said the dip in the economy is a normal cycle in any economic which should not be over dramatised.

He said the slowdown in the Chinese economy is mainly responsible for the weakening of the Kwacha as copper receipts have drastically reduced.

The Finance Minister was speaking in Lusaka on Thursday when he delivered a key note address at the 2015 Zambia Finance and Investment Conference organised by Euromoney Conferences at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel.

Mr Chikwanda said although some people want to portray a picture as if the government is solely to blame for the current economic woes, every genuine economist knew that there will come a time when the Chinese economy will begin to slowdown.

“Surely nobody expected China to continue growing at the same level, there was going to be a time when they would finish constructing their roads, office buildings and any other infrastructure and reduce their appetite for our copper and maybe that time has now come,” Mr Chikwanda said.

He said the Zambian economy is resilient enough to withstand the current economic storm.

Mr Chikwanda said government has taken a raft of measures to stabilise the macroeconomic environment which is necessary for sustainable growth.

He said government is focused on reducing the budget deficit to manageable levels as a free of freeing up capital for private sector lending.

“We are going to rein in on public expenditure this year and going forward as a way of managing our cash flow position, but most of these measures have to be taken before cabinet first, i normally do not like to pre-empt these tins before we debate them as cabinet but we are formulating something,” he said.

On the foreign exchange position, Mr Chikwanda said the Kwacha depreciation has been compounded by the speculators who are trying to cash in on the situation.

“The Bank of Zambia has been carrying out open market operations which have somewhat helped but they can only do so much and their activities have been restricted because of dwindling foreign exchange reserves, we are probably sitting around two and half months of import cover which is not a desirable situation.”

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