By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA –
THE World Bank has recommended that Zambia should be helped to prepare for potential copper price instability in future.
According to a Country Programme Evaluation report on Zambia, conducted by the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) covering 2004-2013, the country should be helped to manage the economy from future external shocks.
World Bank country manager for Zambia, Ina Ruthenberg said the report had recommended that the bank should help Zambia prepare for potential copper price volatility.
Ms Ruthenberg said copper was important to Zambia’s development, but that it should not hold the country to ransom over its development.
She was speaking during a public discussion on the bank’s country engagement in Zambia: ‘Ten year programme evaluation with focus on resource rich issues.
“We have come to learn about cyclical nature of the copper prices and each time it falls, it brings about economic hardship particularly to the poor,” she said.
Ms Ruthenberg said this should be done jointly by exploring alternative scenarios and appropriate arrangements for sound fiscal management and monitoring over the medium- term and for developing contingency plans.
She said the report recommends that the bank addresses rural poverty as more central theme, not just of the bank strategy documents, but also of operational programmes.
Ms Ruthenberg said there were poverty-related interventions in agriculture and health and the bank needed to develop a strategic approach to have an impact on rural poverty in the medium term.
She said the bank was committed to addressing poverty reduction in Zambia.
Vice President Inonge Wina said while mining remains important and would continue to be promoted, there was need to aggressively diversify the economy to other sector in order to cushion the negative effects of external shocks.
Ms Wina said IEG report provides useful insights to the Government on how it can move forward with the recommendations.
She said Government valued informative evaluations such as the one done by IEG adding that there was need to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of Government’s programme.
“To this effect the Government has put in place measures such as enforced multi-level performance audits, evaluation and monitoring to provide a clear and strong mechanism for tracking progress,” she said.
Ms Wina said meaningful economic transformation was fundamental to collective prosperity of the nation.
“I would like to reassure the World Bank that the Government remains committed to its agenda of eradicating poverty in the country, as articulated in the Sixth National Development Plan.
Currently, we are consulting with various stakeholders in the country to ensure that the Seventh National Development Plan is developed in a more consultative manner,” Ms Wina said.