Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Felix Mutati, today told parliament that K92 billion, out of the K150 billion earmarked for the Citizens’ Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) funds has been released for various developmental projects.
Mr. Mutati said K35 billion has already been spent on about 160 projects, adding that another 240 projects have been approved at the cost of K52 billion as at 30th September 2009.
He said the commission was still considering the remaining projects for funding.
He was answering a question raised by Kanchibiya Member of Parliament (MP) Davies Mwango (Patriotic Front), who wanted to know how much money has so far been disbursed by the CEEC to the intended beneficiaries country-wide and how much is expected to be disbursed next year.
Mr. Mutati said over 1,200 jobs and a lot of wealth has been created through the funds from the commission.
He explained that the beneficiaries of the CEEC funds have been drawn both urban and rural areas of Zambia, contrary to assertions by some MPs that only those from urban areas have benefited.
Mr. Mutati stated that the funds are meant for all the Zambian citizens, adding that the rural communities have not been left out.
He further explained that CEEC has established offices in all the districts in order to make people access the funds easily.
And contributing to the debate, Lukulu East MP Batuke Imenda MP (United Liberal Party) bemoaned the alleged long process through which people have to go through to access the funds, adding that the procedure was complicated and cumbersome.
Meanwhile, Kabwata MP Given Lubinda (PF) asked how many women and youths have benefited from the CEEC so far.
In response, Mr. Mutati said government has put on board youth groups, women clubs and the physically challenged persons as priority for accessing the funds.
He disclosed that government will consider increasing the allocation to the commission so that more people could benefit as a way of alleviating poverty in communities.