The revelations by Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda that Zambia’s foreign debt is now a staggering US$4.7 billion while the local debt is at K24 billion, means the country under the PF leadership is technically bankrupt., says UPND youth leader Kenny Ng’ona.
‘Our simple calculations indicate that US$4.7 billion at the current exchange rates averaging US$1 to K6.2 gives us about K30 billion foreign debt and now add that with K24 billion domestic debt, it gives us close to K55 billion in debt.
‘This year’s budget is ZMK46.7 billion meaning Chikwanda has put the country into more debt than the entire national budget and confirms this country is now totally bankrupt, said Ngona in a statement.
He said that ‘If the PF government with Chikwanda as Finance Minister were a company, it should by now be going through liquidation and put under receivership as it would no longer be a viable entity. In other words, it would be insolvent.’
Ngona said ‘we all know the painful path that this country went through in begging for debt forgiveness and write-off under the Jubilee 2000 campaign over money borrowed by the UNIP government over a period of 27 years.’
Said Ngona: ‘As a country, we thought it was recklessness for Kaunda and UNIP to have accumulated US$7billion debt but it has taken Michael Sata and Alexander Chikwanda only 3 years to hit close to US$5 billion foreign debt.
‘Imagine how indebted Zambia will be if PF are to be granted a second term in office with this appetite for borrowing due to their failure to generate resources locally from mines and manufacturing sectors?
‘This level of recklessness also reinforces our calls for a new people driven constitution that will strengthen parliamentary oversight on checking and approving loans being contracted by the Zambian government and how borrowed resources are being utilised. In other words there will be no loan without a business plan.
‘When Zambian people call on the Finance Minister to introduce windfall taxes on mines so as to generate more resources locally, they are being called lunatics.’
He said ‘ Zambians are clever enough to judge who is a lunatic between the person failing to locally generate resources but opts to borrow and runs the country into bankruptcy and ourselves who are calling for introduction of revenue measures that generate resources locally instead of resorting to consigning future generations into another debt burden.
‘The PF government removed key fuel and mealie meal subsidies on the pretext that they wanted to generate resources for infrastructure development, yet even with the removal of subsidies, they have gone over-board in contracting a debt.’
Ngona asked, ‘So where are the savings from the removal of subsidies that have so far pushed the cost of living far beyond the reach of majority Zambians?’
He said it was now clear that both the borrowed resources and savings from subsidies are just benefiting a few within government who are corruptly getting contracts since majority Zambians are not getting any benefits.
‘Its even sad and shameful that even with this debt mountain being accrued and the removal of subsidies, the PF is failing to fund hospitals, bursaries for our poor children, and other social sectors,’ said the UPND leader.