MINISTER of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane says the uncertainty created by the protracted restructuring process of the country’s debt has put pressure on the currency.
The Minister said the move has made it difficult to attract much-needed foreign investment, despite Zambia’s vast natural resources and improved business climate.
In a statement, Dr Musokotwane has since urged the Official Creditor Committee (OCC) to make progress on debt restructuring.
This follows ongoing engagements Zambia is having with its creditors to reach an agreement on debt restructuring.
“We appreciate the significant effort from all of Zambia’s creditors as we work towards an agreement on debt restructuring, and we are grateful for the ongoing productive consultations,” he said.
Dr Musokotwane appealed to the Official Creditor Committee in their next meeting to make substantial progress in their deliberations.
He said once deliberations are done, the move will facilitate preparation of the Memorandum of Understanding which will swiftly resolve the debt overhang and access the next tranche of IMF financing.
Dr Musokotwane reiterated that the delays to debt restructuring are having a significant impact on the economy and the livelihoods of people.
“With support from the IMF, Zambia has played its part by making significant progress in implementing an ambitious reform agenda to stabilise our economy, increase transparency and borrowing oversight, as well as implement prudent spending reforms,” he said.
Dr Musokotwane said debt relief is urgently needed for Zambia to maintain its trajectory of economic recovery and growth.
“From our side as Government, we will continue to do all we can to push for the members of the OCC to reach consensus so that we can bring this matter to a close,” he said.
(Mwebantu, Tuesday, 30th May, 2023)
YANGO Introduces Advanced Safety Technologies in Zambia
Demonstrating Commitment to Improving Safety and Elevating Security Standards among Partner, Drivers and Riders
International ride-hailing service Yango launched new safety features and initiatives for riders and drivers demonstrating commitment to elevating safety and comfort of its rides and advocating road safety consciousness of e-mobility users in Zambia. The company has added new cutting-edge speeding and driving style monitoring technologies which are activated during all the service’s rides. This offering comes as an extension to the existing number of safety features including tap buttons for SOS to contact local authorities, emergency situations feature to contact the service’s urgent team, route sharing and a Safety Centre which combines new and existing features.
Speeding control and driving style monitoring technologies are designed to enhance road safety and reduce the risk of accidents. With GPS control the system proactively monitors drivers’ speed during the Yango rides and sends notifications to drivers. Driving style monitoring uses a system that is sensitive to harsh mobile vibrations such as hard braking. When the system detects these fluctuations, it sends notifications to the drivers as well. For drivers with regular violations, the access to the service will be lost. Additionally, Yango evaluates driving style based on passengers’ feedback.
Yango’s Country Manager Kabanda Chewe said ‘’the new feature will actively monitor the behavior of drivers behind the wheel and then the analysis of the data received will allow the detection of specific training opportunities on driving and road safety, with a view to continuously improve the App. The driver’s application Yango Pro will monitor the accelerometer readings to warn drivers about dangerous maneuvers and possible accidents’’.
Another very important feature available is the ability of drivers to see alert zones. There are a number of zones that have been marked not very safe and drivers have the liberty to decline orders to such zones without any penalties. This is a move to ensure that drivers remain safe while working to earn a living.
Apart from these features Yango continues to work on a number of technologies that would bring the safety of rides in Zambia to a whole new level. Among those is an AI-driven route monitoring system that will allow the support team to monitor deviations from the route during rides in the real time. Although a work in progress at the moment, the feature will be tested in a number of markets before the end of 2023. The Yango team believes that by combining the already announced features with the newly developed ones, it will create the safest ride-hailing service in Zambia, bringing the bar of quality to an unprecedented high and provide safety for both drivers and riders.
There is a wide variety of features available for riders too. Before a trip,a rider gets to see the driver’s profile which has a rating score based on the feedback about previous rides. This profile also includes a current photo and helps the user to compare the image with the real driver. The drivers’ license photo check features require drivers to send his/her selfie from time to time for system comparison and for checks on validity of licenses before drivers can have access to accept orders. This is also reaffirmed by vehicle document checks. During trips, riders have a special feature known as the Safety Center. Here, riders have the SOS-button to alert local authorities in case of emergency, the share route button to share route and trip details with contacts in the phone book. The passenger can also make a request to the Yango urgent team through the Emergency situation button. There is also a support incident team available at all times to handle rider complaints.
Yango continues to listen to feedback from both drivers and riders in their commitment to provide a safe and secure service for Zambians. The company is also frequently collaborating with the police and local authorities for investigations and other support measures whenever called upon.
Russia, OPEC’s decision to cut fuel exports triggers petroleum product price hike in Zambia
RUSSIA’s decision to further implement a voluntary export cut of diesel and petrol, plus the move by Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to also follow suit, has contributed to the increase in fuel prices in Zambia.
The Energy Regulation Board(ERB) has increased fuel prices effective midnight.
A litre of diesel will sale at K29. 96 from the previous K26. 88 while a litre of petrol, which was fetching at K29. 42 this month, will now sale at an upward K29. 9 a litre.
The price of Jet A- for major airports has also been increased from K29.29 to K30.50 a litre.
ERB board chairperson Reynolds Bowa told a media briefing this evening that the export cuts of fuel internationally and the depreciation of the kwacha against the dollar are among the reasons behind the fuel price hike.
“The main drivers for the changes in petroleum prices are the upward movements in international oil price and the depreciation of the Kwacha against the United States Dollar.
“The price of oil on the international market, between September 2023 and che current price review for October 2023, has continued to increase,” Mr Bowa said.
He noted that the average prices of Petrol, Diesel and Kerosene increased on the international market by 3.89percent, 6.36percent and 7.21percent respectively.
“The general increase in international oil prices is attributed to declining global oil inventories following the extended oil production cuts by the Organisation for the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its alliance (OPEC+).
“In addition to the OPEC+ agreed extended oil production cuts, Russia has further implemented a voluntary export cut of diesef and petrol,”he said.
Mr Bowa added that this has further reduced the supply of global petroleum products and has contributed to the increase in prices on the international market, as demand outstrips supply.
“Notably, within September, 2023, the international prices for finished petroleum products reached above US$ 1 00/bbl which was -elatively high in comparison to past review periods,” he said.
Mr Bowa said the monthly price reviews are currently ideal compared to long term considering that international prices of the commodity are reviewed everyday.
(Mwebantu, Saturday, 30th September, 2023)
2024 Budget proposes K30.6million CDF, K5, 100 Paye threshold
IN its continued quest to implement development in the country, Government, under the Unted Party for National Development (UPND) administration has reiterated its agenda in the 2024 budget presentation.
Government proposes to spend
K177.8billion next years budget.
Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko highlighted several developmental agenda’s that the UPND administration strives to achieve and was outlined in four parts; the global and domestic economic developments, the macroeconomic objectives and details estimate of revenue and its conclusion.
Dr Musokotwane said told Parliament that the budget is stemmed on a proposal to spend around K167.3 billion in all sectors towards improvement of the economy.
The minister stated that development of the country requires perseverance and discipline.
He maintained that Government is working towards addressing the high cost of mealie meal and fuel prices and that the journey to a better Zambia is through collective efforts.
“Madam speaker, the New Dawn government is delivering on its promises to the people of Zambia. Our promise to fix the economy is on course. Growth has rebounded. Budget credibility has been restored. Inflation has been lowered, the exchange rate has been stabilised and concrete steps are being taken to restructure debt.”
“Government is working towards addressing the high mealie meal prices and fuel prices and so the journey to a better Zambia is a collective one,” he said.
Dr Musokotwane said Government has increased the maize price purchase for the farmers under because recently released data showed that they were among the poorest in the country.
He said that farmers are the ones that contribute tremendously to the food basket of the country, yet they are rated among the poorest because they were selling the maize commodity at low prices,
Dr Musokotwane also stated that to improve on the agriculture sector, more farm blocks will be improved by enring the road network and resources in the areas are revamped.
He also touched on the importance of the education sector which he noted was making strides in ensuring that even the vulnerable have access to education, an incentive that only the rich could explore previously.
Dr Musokotwane said to further mprove the education sector, a total of 4,200 teachers will be recruited next year.
On proposals by various sections of society for government to re introduce fuel subsidies, the minister said that subsidies cannot be brought back because the resources have been channelled towards free education.
“Some citizens have called for reintroduction of subsidies for fuel. This means that we may have to abandon free education. In light of what I have said, the focus should be to provide for children and so I believe going back to subsidies is something which will be good for the vulnerable,” he said.
And Dr Musokotwane said to further enhance delivery of development in communities, he proposed that the Constituency Development Fund be increased from K28 million to K30.6 million so as to address various challenges.
He also outlined that in 2024, around 4,000 health workers will again be recruited to cushion the challenges in the health sector,
Dr Musokotwane said other introductions will be the introduction of a whistleblower reward for those that help enable recovery of stolen assets.
On Pay as You Earn Threshold, the proposed increment by the Minister was K5,100 from K4, 800.
(Mwebantu, Saturday, 30th September, 2023)