By BEN PHIRI –
Government has finally settled the US$US9 million loan which Zambia Forest and Forestry Industry Corporation (ZAFFICO) got from the International Development Association (IDA) more than two decades ago.
Zaffico got the IDA loan for the procurement of wood processing equipment but the machines were sold after the company’s production units were privatised.
Company board chairperson Jacob Mwitwa expressed gatitude to the Government for resolving the issue which had been outstanding for a long time.
Professor Mwitwa said in Kawambwa during the launch of Zaffico’s new exotic timber plantation that the loan made the company’s balance sheet unattractive.
“I would like to express the board’s sincere gratitude to Government for resolving Zaffico’s long-standing issue of the International Development Association loan. This loan made the company’s balance sheet very unattractive but the current Government listened and converted the loan into equity,” Prof Mwitwa said.
Prof Mwitwa was hopeful that the current appeal for financial support for the expansion programme would be received favourably by Government.
He assured Government that ZAFFICO intended to manage affairs in a viable and sustainable manner and be able to declare dividends.
ZAFFICO would in addition help Government fight deforestation and climate change, create employment as well as reducing poverty.
“Zaffico will not only concentrate on making profit but do its best to help Government fight effects of deforestation and climate change as well as create employment and reduce poverty,” Prof Mwitwa said.
The company, which has planted 26,000 trees at the new plantation about 10 kilometres from the Boma, had in the last two years undertaken a massive tree replanting programme on the Copperbelt where more than 3,000 jobs have been created.
The tree planting programme in Kawambwa will cost the company more than K87.2 million in capital expenditure and operations.