President Edgar Lungu has assured China that measures announced by Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe will NOT affect Chinese funded projects or Chinese financing.
In a statement dated Wednesday 11th July 2018, issued by Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda, China has been assured that the debt restructuring measures recently announced will not affect the financing and contractual obligations Zambia had made to China.
Minister of Finance, Margaret Mwanakatwe announced the suspension of all new projects and stated that only projects that have reached 80% would be completed.
But when he met Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Li Joe, President Lungu stated that the Debt Restructuring Strategy will not affect Chinese financed project.
“On his part, President Edgar Lungu assured the Chinese Ambassador that Zambia will proactively engage China at every stage of the implementation of the Debt Restructuring Program that there was no disruption in financing arrangements and project implementation and overall contractual obligations”.
He said he appealed to the Chinese Ambassador to inform all relevant authorities, financiers, and companies that there would be no disruptions in the on-going projects.
President Lungu said to this effect, he was dispatching a powerful team led by five cabinet ministers,( Mwanakatwe, Malanji, Chiteme, and Chitotela) to China to hold strategic consultations with Chinese authorities., financing institutions and companies.
Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe recently announced austerity and fiscal measures to curb the rising foreign debt and high spending on infrastructure.
After an initial debt consolidation when Mwanakatwe took over as Minister of Finance, Zambia announced that its foreign debt stood at $9.1billion from $6.9,billion and local/ domestic debt of $5billion.
She instituted a debt management strategy that saw the cancellation of Chinese many pipeline projects worth up-to $5billion.
Projects affected included the $3.5 billion Chipata-Serenje Railway line, and many pipeline road projects under the Link-Zambia 8000.
She also announced austere measures that would curb unnecessary expenditure including a ban on official foreign travel by Ministers and other officials.
But it is clear that the measures and the debt strategy management strategy has just been thrown into the bin with the latest announcement by State House.