World Bank Vice President Mrs. Obliageli Ezekwesili has praised Zambia for maintaining a favourable macroeconomic performance seen through a sustained economic growth which the country has revised upwards In 2010.
She said the brilliant performance will boost growth and place the country among the leading economic performers on the continent.
The World Bank Vice President also noted that Zambia needs continued reforms in governance so that the country could further move forward and attract new investments required to improve the lives of Zambians.
The praise came up when Mrs. Obliageli Ezekwesili met the Zambian delegation to the 2010 IMF/World Bank annual meetings which is led by Deputy Minister of Finance and National Planning, Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe.
The delegation includes the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Likolo Ndalamei, Special Assistant to the President on Economic matters, Dr. Richard Chembe, Bank of Zambia Governor, Dr. Caleb Fundanga, Zambian ambassador to the USA, Mrs. Sheila Siwela and Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor, Dr. Danny Kalyalya
The World Bank Vice President said, “ I acknowledge the brilliant economic performance and the continued maintenance of a stable macroeconomic environment in Zambia. I truly applaud you and your leadership.”
Mrs Obliageli Ezekwesili also said the World Bank Group President Mr. Robert Zoellick would soon visit Zambia .
She said his visit will create a good opportunity for the Bank to listen and learn about how the Bank could best support the country’s ambitious development agenda.
The World Bank Vice President further applauded the steps being taken by the Zambian government in the fight against corruption noting that progress had been made by the government in addressing the shortcomings highlighted by the Auditor-General in the Ministry of Health as well as the Road sector.
She said that the World Bank was eager to see cases of corruption concluded in order to send a strong message to the perpetrators.
Mrs. Obliageli Ezekwisili urged Zambia to continue addressing governance reforms in other areas such as in Public Financial Management and domestic revenue collection.
The Vice President also commended Zambia’s efforts in malaria mortality control through accelerated malaria control activities that had resulted in mortality reducing by more than 50 per cent.
She said Zambia was a success story and a model for other countries to follow and that the World Bank was anxious to further support the Malaria Booster Project whose aim was to increase access to and the use of malaria prevention and treatment interventions by the Zambian population in all the 72 districts of the country.
Earlier, in her remarks, Deputy Minister for Finance and National Planning, Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe stated that Zambia’s macroeconomic performance in the first half of 2010 was mainly driven by the continued expansion in the mining sector evidenced by increased copper production and the favourable copper prices as well as the positive growth in the agriculture sector that had resulted in a historical maize bumper harvest of 2.7 million tones.
She also said that the tourism sector had performed well due to an increase in international travel and the 2010 Soccer World Cup spill over effects.
Ms. Kapwepwe told her host that the exchange rate remained stable and that inflation was within reach at a 2010 target of 8.0 per cent.
The Deputy Minister stated that the government would continue to focus on maintaining macroeconomic stability whose objectives in the medium term included expanding and diversifying the economy and sustaining single digit inflation.
Other measures would be increasing domestic revenue mobilization, reducing commercial lending rates, maintaining public debt sustainability and increasing productive employment.
Regarding the Road Sector Issues, she observed that arising from the special audit of the Road Development Agency (RDA) by the Auditor-Generals’s office, the government had developed corrective actions in order to remedy the financing and administrative anomalies highlighted in the Auditor-General’s report.
On the fight against corruption, Ms. Kapwepwe observed that government had made initiatives to strengthen the fight against corruption by creating units such as the Financial Intelligence Unit under the Ministry of Finance and presenting to parliament the bill related to it.