By JOSEPH BANDA –
CABINET has approved the release of millions of dollars to complete on-going infrastructure projects across the country because it is the only way to achieve economic growth.
The funding for the projects will be provided by the Export-Import Bank of China and the Industrial Commercial Bank of China.
This was agreed during the third Cabinet meeting held at State House on Monday.
“President Edgar Lungu and his Cabinet agreed to continue with infrastructure projects countrywide because the Government was aware that it was through such projects that economic progress could be achieved,” Chief Government spokesperson Dora Siliya said in a statement.
She said a total of US$241.1 million was approved for release, of which 85 per cent ($204.9 million) would be provided by the Export-Import Bank of China, while the other 15 per cent ($ 36.1 million) would be provided by the Industrial Commercial Bank of China.
The meeting also approved the $204.9 million financing for selected roads in Lusaka province under the L-400 project for them to be rehabilitated, upgraded and constructed.
Ms Siliya said the general scope of the works included periodic maintenance, rehabilitation and new construction of approximately 400 Km of roads among others.
With this project, the face of Lusaka City was expected to change completely as has been the case with key roads such as Chilimbulu, Burma, Nationalist and others. During the same meeting, Cabinet approved US$197.3 million financing for roads on the Copperbelt for selected 152 km township roads in Kitwe, Chingola and Mufulira dubbed, the Lot 1 Project.
She said the meeting also expressed the need for Government to quickly rehabilitate economic roads such as the Chingola-Solwezi, Kafue-Mazabuka and Lusaka-Mongu roads which were currently in a bad state.
And Zambia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has continued on a positive trajectory with inflation contained within the projected band of six to eight per cent being at 6.1 per cent.
The 2018 outlook shows continued positive growth and macroeconomic stability, although risks remain related to financing of the budget, adverse weather and health conditions.
This is according to Finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe’s brief to the meeting.
Ms Siliya said the Finance minister told the meeting that in 2017, that at 6.1 per cent, the preliminary Budget deficit had been contained below the seven per cent target.
She said the external sector improved as the current account deficit narrowed to US$760.3 million from US$1.037 billion in 2016 and relative stability was achieved in the exchange of the Kwacha against major currencies.
On electricity, the Cabinet also approved the implementation of the Electricity Service Access Project to be funded by the International Development Association (IDA).
The meeting also approved the appointment of two Government officials to the National Prosecution Authority Board because to fill the vacancies in the position of vice-chairperson and a member.
Cabinet also approved, in principle, the introduction of a Bill in Parliament that would provide for the conversion of Medical Stores Limited into a statutory Government agency because it was not profit-oriented.
It also approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to repeal and replace the National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council in order to strengthen the legal framework which provides for coordination, monitoring and evaluation of multi-sectoral national response for the prevention and combating of the spread of HIV/ AIDS.
Concluding the meeting, President Lungu regretted the loss of lives of six children who drowned in Central Province.