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‘Stop being unreasonable’, Govt faults EFF, others for querying choice of Macro-Ocean, funding plan for highway project


It is unreasonable for some stakeholders to claim that it is wrong for National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) to lend money to a foreign firm, Finance and National Planning Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwene has said.

Musokotwane said allowing Macro Ocean Investment Consortium to borrow money from NAPSA would help to earn money and sustain jobs.

Macro Ocean Investment Consortium was recently picked as the preferred concessionaire of the Lusaka-Ndola dual-carriage way.

The financing agreements, which include NAPSA as one of the lender, have not been finalised and signed.

Musokotwene said if foreign companies borrowed from local lending institutions, it would help them earn money and sustain jobs in the sector.

He said this during an online Forum on Financing for Development (Eighth National Development Programme (8NDP), 2023 Budget, Public Private Partnerships (PPP’s) in Lusaka on Wednesday.

Read more: Ndola-Lusaka road concession, a shoddy deal’, EFF seeks disclosure of real owners of Macro-Ocean consortium

“Therefore, it is unreasonable for our colleagues from the Patriotic Front saying it is wrong for NAPSA to lend money to a foreign firm. You can see lack of understanding on this issue and it is part of the reason why the economy is where it is today.

“Because of lack of understanding of these basic principles of the economy that it makes sense for a foreign company to borrow money locally. This is part of the reason why the economy is where it is today,” he said.

Musokotwene said those saying NAPSA was using their money and must not lend to foreign firms did not understand the proposition of this arrangement.

“Some people saying that is it wrong for the National Pension Scheme Authority to consider lending money to Macro Ocean Investment Consortium are doing it from a dangerous ignorance point of view which must not be tolerated,” he said.

Musokotwene was hopeful that the matter would die forever and the issue still had to go through NAPSA management before it was approved.

He said if the foreign firms were not allowed to borrow locally, they would go elsewhere limiting the business of local lending institution which might result in the banking sector shrinking and jobs being lost.

He also said PPPs were the best route for government to work on infrastructure because it had no room to borrow.

“It is important to explain to some of our citizens that do not understand PPP models,” Musokotwene said.

Also read: Hichilema defends Ndola-Lusaka dual carriage deal, claims PF inflated cost of original contract

On the debt restructuring, he said government was working hard to conclude the process because of its importance.

Musokotwene said the state was working with all the creditors such as the Chinese, Paris Club and bond holders to agree on the terms on how the debt can be restructured to have a breathing space.

He said unfortunately several groups were involved that was the reason they had been a delay but government was pushing so that for it to be concluded.

Musokotwene said the issue of the completion of the debt restructuring is at the core of what is being seen today in terms of the pressure on the foreign exchange market.

He said the pressure experiencing the Kwacha was a direct consequence of the uncompleted debt restructuring process because part of the budget is funded by government selling treasury bonds.

Musokotwane said various creditors lend money to government in exchange for bonds.

“These creditors are both local and foreign and bring their United States dollar or other currencies .When the money is in the country they convert to Kwacha to buy bonds up to the time they get their interest or the money matures which helps stabilise the Kwacha,” he said.

Musokotwane said but now because of the un-concluded debt restructuring, those that usually put dollars in bonds are holding back for fear that their monies might be subjected to debt restructuring process and might get less.

He said this was despite government explaining that it would not be the case but some investors were still holding back with others not re-investing their money once the bond matures.

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