AFRODAD together with Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) and the Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR), hosted a public debt symposium on the 30th August 2019 in Lusaka, Zambia. The main objective of the same was calling on government to take serious and consolidated action on debt before it is too late. AFRODAD, CUTS and CSPR called upon government to take action through communicating clearly on the issue of debt in Zambia and providing regular and detailed updates on the level of debt, building collaborative plans to tackle Zambia's debt and consulting stakeholders to build strong plans to support growth in Zambia. In a statement handed over to Zambia government, especially ministry of finance after the symposium, we made the following recommendations:
- Prioritize the implementation of financial oversight reforms and increasing debt transparency and accountability. The proposed revision in the Constitution on Zambia (Amendment) Bill that seeks to remove parliamentary oversight threatens to reverse gains that the country has already made in this direction.
- The Government needs to consider how to use its available resources to develop a legitimate refinancing strategy for its debt repayments, including the first Eurobond owed in 2022.
- Government should consider selling non-essential assets and use proceeds to pay down Eurobond debt.
- The Government should double down on its efforts to deliver fiscal consolidation. This includes reducing expenditure, particularly on large infrastructure projects and improving domestic resource mobilization instead. Strengthening the fiscal contract requisite to hold the government to account should be high on the agenda. Harnessing the potential within the informal sector could also add value.
- The Government should seek to engage the IMF, whose technical assistance and financial support could help to ease budget pressures, protect social spending and put the economy on a sustainable path.