PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has assigned five ministers to travel to China to discuss debt restructuring with Chinese companies and financiers.
This is according to a statement issued this evening by the President’s special assistant for press and public relations Amos Chanda.
According to the statement, President Lungu told new Chinese ambassador Li Jie during a meeting at State House that his government would proactively engage China at every stage of the implementation of the debt restructuring programme to ensure that there were no disruptions in financing arrangements, project implementation and overall contractual obligations.
President Lungu requested ambassador Li to inform relevant Chinese authorities, financiers and companies that there would be no disruption in ongoing projects because there was a care approach to guide implementation of measures announced by finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe.
“To this effect, the President informed the ambassador that he has assigned five ministers to travel to China in the coming days to hold strategic consultations with Chinese authorities, financing institutions and Chinese companies doing business in Zambia to discuss the debt restructuring programme,” reads the statement. “The ministers who have been assigned to travel to China are: the Ministers of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Housing and Infrastructure, and National Development Planning.”
President Lungu thanked the Chinese ambassador for the strong support that China had provided to Zambia and encouraged him to work towards greater bilateral cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.
According to the statement, ambassador Li assured President Lungu of his country’s continued cooperation and support in vari0oous areas of national development.
“The Chinese envoy also sought clarification on Zambia’s debt restructuring programme so that Chinese authorities and financing institutions could plan accordingly,” reads the statement.
Last month Mwanakatwe announced austerity measures to address the country’s debt crisis.
In order to address the pace of debt contraction and the affordability of the debt, the government had undertaken to indefinitely postpone contraction of all pipeline debt until the debt is brought back to moderate risk of distress; cancelled some of the current contracted loans that were yet to be disbursed to reduce the debt service outlays; and refinancing on selected bilateral loans, both local and external, to extend the maturity profile and attain lower costs on debt.