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Zambian gov't says to stick to homegrown economic recovery program

Xinhua, February 18, 2017 Adjust font size:

The Zambian government said on Friday that it will not be pressured to accept any financial aid package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) because it was already implementing its economic recovery program.

Minister of Finance Felix Mutati said the government was proceeding with its economic recovery program and that cooperating partners, including the IMF, will have to fit into it.

The government announced the economic recovery program in the 2017 budget aimed at ensuring sustained and inclusive economic growth.

"This is a homegrown economic recovery program and the rest of you including the IMF will have to fit into our program. We will tell them we don't need you if they don't fit in," he said during a discussion program organized by the Economic Association of Zambia, an association representing economists.

Last year, the Zambian government decided to engage the IMF on a monetary aid package to revive the economy which had been battered following a slump in commodity prices and a power deficit that crippled industries.

The IMF team visited Zambia from October 19 to 31, 2016 to assess the economic situation and provide policy advice to restore macroeconomic stability.

The second visit is scheduled for next month.

But the Zambian minister said the economy which had faced challenges had begun to show signs of recovery, with stability seen in the foreign exchange market, low inflation and increased tax collection.

He however said as a member of the IMF, Zambia should be allowed to enjoy the benefits that come with being a member and that its voice should be heard.

The government, he reiterated, was committed to fiscal discipline and realigning its expenditure to priority projects although it still faced a challenge of servicing its huge debt.

Zambia's economy dropped to three percent last year, the lowest since 1998 against a target of five percent and is projected to marginally rise to 3.4 percent this year, according to the country's 2017 budget. Endit