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‘Debt crippling our economy but…’, Hichilema says Zambia has done enough to earn creditors’ confidence


President Hakainde Hichilema has said it was now time for the G20 common framework to decide on Zambia for debt treatment as he is confident that the country has met all the required benchmarks, without exception.

The Head of State also said the time had come for the creditors committee to decide on Zambia, without deferring their meetings.

His sentiments resonate with those of his Finance and National Planning Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane, who recently insisted that Zambia had met all the requirements needed by the creditors to sign the Memorandum of Understanding needed for the country to access the US$188 million distribution from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Hichilema, during a press conference in Lusaka on Thursday, said it was his expectation that creditors at their next meeting would conclude and decide on Zambia.

Read more: Govt revenue collection yields K26.3 billion in Q1, 2023, as external debt burden swells $13.96 billion

“Debt is crippling the economy and so part of our duty is to resolve the debt mounting. I am confident that we have met all the benchmarks, all of them, without exception for meeting part of the bargain. Now what is it up to the framework to make a decision,” he said.

Official statistics from the Finance and National Planning Ministry indicate that central government external debt as at 31st January 2023 amounted to US$13.96 billion from US$13.36 billion in 2022.

Zambia is currently struggling with its official creditors to reach a tangible resolution for financial assurances.

Without these financial assurances from the creditors, Zambia will not access the US$188 million distribution from the IMF despite the economy picking up.

Also read: President Hichilema says France ready to assist Zambia in its quest for debt restructuring

In trying to find a solution to this bottleneck, Hichilema said it was part of the reason he had been travelling to meet co-chairs of the common framework such as the French Minister Emmanuel Macron.

Hichilema explained that the agenda was to request these leaders to speak on behalf of Zambia for a debt treatment and lobby for votes.

“Our agenda is to grow the economy, so when we travel we have an agenda. When ministers travel, they are fitting in that agenda. Just to assure citizens that as we travel, we are focusing on mobilising investment because as the G20 to vote for Zambia’s debt relief, you will need countries that sit there.

“So we engage those countries so they can approve our programmes, not their programmes, our programmes,” he said.

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