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Sunday, 28 September 2008

Election 2008 : MMD's Statement of Intent

We have already discussed PF's statement of intent, I have been looking to dig up something similar for MMD. So far the 10th September National Address by RB appears to be the best. For sure, some of the "promises" are already been delivered (e.g. fuel price reduction), but I have yet to see RB articulate an alternative vision beyond what was offered in the inaugral address. We can therefore take that statement with a degreee of confidence. Key excerpts below:

Constitution Making Process

I reaffirm Government’s commitment to the Constitution making process as specified in the National Constitutional Conference Act. The work of the National Constitutional Conference will, therefore, continue to its logical conclusion.

Human Rights

Human rights will remain critical in our efforts to consolidate good governance. Government will continue to uphold tenets of good governance and the rule of law and to enhance the freedoms and rights of citizens.

Media

As we carry the vision of our Late President, especially in regard to democracy, we should maintain that free expression of views is fundamental to good governance.

Government will, therefore, continue to provide a conducive policy, legal and institutional framework for the development of a free media. Government will continue with the policy of liberalisation of the media industry for continued private sector participation. In this respect, the review of media laws will continue until we find an appropriate media legislation that will further promote freedom of expression.

Economic Management and Focus

The Mwanawasa administration reintroduced National Development Planning which has refocused economic management. This has led to the tremendous economic progress that the country has made so far. Planning will, therefore, remain our economic management tool.

Prudent fiscal and monetary policies have been pursued resulting in macro economic stability. Consequently, the economy has been registering annual growth rates averaging five percent (5%) and reaching six percent (6%) in the last two (2) years. Low inflation has also been recorded with single digit levels attained for the first time in 30 years in 2006.

However, in the recent past, the country has witnessed an upward surge in inflation due to global factors. Government will remain committed to fighting inflation to single digit levels through continued prudent fiscal and monetary policies which have a positive impact on interest rates.

The increase in export earnings and the debt relief has led to a substantial build up of our foreign currency reserves to US$1.4 billion currently. This position has also contributed to a stable exchange rate thereby enhancing business and economic planning.

These hard earned economic strides have been appreciated in the international financial circles to the extent that Zambia is now poised to have a sovereign credit rating, for the first time ever.

We are determined to continue with the implementation of prudent economic policies to score even more successes, particularly a rapid reduction in poverty among our people.

The Government will continue the implementation of structural reforms aimed at improving the business and investment climate. The reforms include:-

• The Private Sector Development Reform Programme
• Public Expenditure Management and Financial Accountability Reforms; and
• Financial Sector Development Plan.

Agriculture

Agriculture remains one of the key priority sectors of the economy. We shall continue to implement the policies and programmes of our departed President Dr. Levy Patrick Mwanawasa. The ultimate goal is to ensure sustenance of household and national food security. In this regard, Government will continue to develop agricultural extension and research services in order to enhance productivity.

Food Security

Government will continue to maintain adequate strategic food reserves to ensure national food security.

Fertiliser Support Programme

We will continue the fertilizer support programme. In view of the current sharp increase of fertilizer prices on the global market, the Government has provided a supplementary funding to the tune of K307 billion to the programme. This is in addition to this year’s budget allocation of K185 billion which will allow for an increase in the number of targeted small scale farmers from 125,000 to 200,000. The applicable subsidy has been increased to 75 percent from 60 percent. This measure is intended to cushion the impact of high fertilizer prices on targeted small scale farmers.

Irrigation Development

With regard to irrigation development, Government will continue to promote irrigation programmes particularly among small scale farmers.

Farm Blocks and Infrastructure Development

In order to increase land for commercial agriculture, the Government will maintain the current programme of opening up new farm lands for both local and foreign investors. In this regard, appropriate infrastructure such as access roads, bridges, dams, electrification, storage facilities and communications will continue to be constructed.

Mining Industry

The mining sector remains the driver of our economy. Over the recent years, the sector has recorded significant growth in investment, production and export earnings. Some of the major investments in this sector are the Konkola Deep Mining Project, the Lumwana Copper Mining Project and Kansashi Mining Project in Solwezi, the Mulyashi Copper Project in Luanshya and the Munali Hills Nickel Project in Mazabuka. These positive developments in the sector are a result of the favourable mining policies espoused by the Mwanawasa administration.

I want, in this regard, to assure both local and foreign investors that there will be no departure from the current policies and focus in the mining sector. I am pleased to inform the nation that the mining companies have equally reiterated commitment to continue their operations in this country.

You will recall that our late President in 2005, instructed the Department of Geological Survey to investigate the possibility of occurrences of oil and gas in North Western Province. Following the preliminary positive results from samples obtained, the Government has demarcated the area into exploration blocks for detailed exploration once the appropriate legislation which is currently before Parliament is established. Government will continue to investigate the possibility of occurrences of oil and gas in other parts of the country.

I take this opportunity to note that fuel prices in Zambia are higher than the regional average. I also take cognisance of the fact that the international oil prices have started coming down. Evidently, there is a case for re-examination of fuel prices in Zambia. In this regard, I direct the Ministers of Finance and National Planning and Energy and Water Development to sit together and examine the matter with a view to reduce the price of fuel.

Energy

The Energy sector plays a pivotal role in the socio-economic development of our country. Despite this recognition, the country in recent years has experienced disruptions in the form of power outages and petroleum shortages that have had negative impact on the overall performance of the economy.

In order to address these constraints, in the electricity sub-sector, Government in the short term is undertaking a rehabilitation and up-rating programme at Kafue Gorge and Kariba North Bank Power Stations.

The rehabilitation and up-rating programme at Kafue Gorge Power Station is expected to be completed this year while the works at Kariba North Bank Power Station are expected to be completed in March, 2009. This will result into increased power generation and the reduction of power deficit.

In the medium and long term, new power stations will be built in order to cater for increased demand for electricity in our growing economy. These include; Kafue Gorge Lower, Kariba North Bank Extension, Kalungwishi, Kabompo and Itezhi thezi Hydropower projects. Cost reflective tariffs in the medium term will be required to support the development of these projects.

In an effort to promote alternative sources of energy, Government will encourage the production and utilisation of bio-fuels and solar energy.

Commerce, Trade and Industry

The private sector remains the engine of economic growth. The implementation of the private sector development reform programme which was launched in 2004 will continue to be a platform for faster and sustained private sector led growth.

Government is reviewing the Zambia Development Agency Act No. 11 of 2006 to ensure that it meets the various needs of the private sector. Further, the Government is reviewing the competition and fair trading act to take on board the broad interests of investors and consumers.

Our late President wanted to see the majority of Zambians participate in the economy. In this regard, he initiated the establishment of the citizens Economic Empowerment Commission which has since began to operate and is administering the empowerment fund.

Another important initiative is the establishment of the multi facility economic zones in Chambishi and Lusaka. Government has since passed an appropriate Statutory Instrument regulating these economic zones.

The Chambishi Economic Zone whose development has commenced will attract investment worth US$900 million and will create more than 6,000 jobs. The master plan for the Lusaka South Multi Facility Economic Zone is being developed and infrastructure development will start in 2009. The Government remains committed to these important development programmes.

Zambia is an active member of regional integration. Recently, the SADC Free Trade Area was launched. This allows regional market access for Zambian products. Government, therefore, remains committed to programmes that foster regional trade and integration. Our commitment to COMESA is equally steadfast.

Tourism

Tourism is among the four economic sectors targeted by government as priorities in our country’s development. In the fifth national development plan and vision 2030, the objective is to make Zambia a major tourism destination of choice with unique features which should contribute to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction by 2030.

The policy to use tourism as a tool for income generation, poverty reduction, job creation and small business development, will continue to be pursued.

Development of projects initiated by our late president will continue. These include the development of greater Livingstone through infrastructure improvement and the construction of Mukuni Park.

Other projects to be developed include the northern circuit which includes Kasaba Bay and Samfya white sands. In Lusaka the south east park is to be developed while the Kafue national park is due for a face lift.

These developments will continue to be pursued using both public and private investments to make Zambia a unique tourist destination.

Public Service Management

Government is committed to improving public service delivery. It is for this reason that Government embarked on the Public Service Reform Programme comprising three pillars of public expenditure management and financial accountability, public service management and decentralisation.

Some of the achievements of these reforms include the development of the public service code of ethics and service charters that guide public service workers in the delivery of service. Implementation of these reforms will continue together with the strengthening of the institutions that provide oversight in enhancing transparency and accountability in the use of public resources.

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