PRINCE Ndoyi says government must stop borrowing money for unrealistic things if it has nothing serious to do.
In a statement, Ndoyi, who is Lusaka youth chairman of the Felix Mutati MMD faction, stated that the government should for once borrow to improve infrastructure in learning institutions.
“We seek to express (our) deep sense of concern and shock on the revelation that our government has contracted a loan to a tune of US$30 million from China for the modernisation of Mulungushi International Conference Centre in readiness for the 2022 African Union (AU) Heads of State summit. Our government has chosen to modernise a conference facility meant for a few days’ summit amidst soaring accommodation challenges in our high learning institutions. Much as we appreciate that this is an interest free loan, it still remains debt being poured into yet another bottomless pit,” Ndoyi, who is a former Zambia National Students Union president, stated.
“Numerous questions arise, whether this is in itself a priority. Will this amount of money pay dividends in the future and if the amount to be spent is reasonable only to temporarily beautify the conference center? Of course, government officials are quick to respond that this will be a valuable investment in the future and that aside being an investment, hosting the Summit will improve the image of Zambia and prove to the international scene that it is financially capable to host big events.”
He stated that the truth was that Zambia had a broke government and advised that they should think of addressing the accommodation challenges that institutions of higher learning were facing.
“The truth of the matter is that we have a broke government, and spending that much in addition to many other expenditures in a bid to host the summit is somewhat a misplaced priority. Is it worth it? Of what benefit and advantage hosting such high profile summit is to the Zambian people? Our almost immediate reaction is an earnest appeal to our listening government to instead redirect the US$30 million loan to modernise Mulungushi Conference Centre towards reducing the never ending accommodation crises at all our public learning institutions,” Ndoyi stated.
“30 million US dollars is too colossal an amount to be poured into an infrastructure which a fortnight later, after the event, will be turned into a WHITE ELEPHANT like many other government conferencing facilities. Government is behaving like a groom, who walks into a bank to borrow millions of dollars only to splash his lovely bride with a luxurious wedding and exotic honeymoon overseas, only to come back broke into a rented house. To me, this also suggests that our approach with development aid might be misguided.”
He stated that President Edgar Lungu should be redirecting loans into key and critical infrastructure areas to enhance food security in the wake of tougher economic times ahead.
“Therefore, I call upon President Lungu to reconsider redirecting this loan into key and critical priority infrastructure areas such as accommodation for students or those meant to enhance food security in the wake of tougher economic times ahead. I am of the strong considered view that Mulungushi International Conference Centre is good enough to host any summit bearing in mind our economic challenges. As a country, we cannot pretend among fellow African leaders facing similar financial and economic challenges, for some even worse than us, by recklessly spending debt monies only to satisfy an appearance,” Ndoyi stated.
“If by assessment Mulungushi Conference Centre requires urgent renovations to host the summit, government can either forego the hosting of this summit, in turn saving us from this unnecessary expenditure. Or government can instead save its revenue monies over a period of time since the summit will only be held in 2022 and time is on our side.”
He stated that the government must deliberately decide to identify priority areas for development financing, which must include food production, hospitals, schools, water and sanitation and roads.
“Government should re-prioritise its spending plans for the 2019 to 2021 Medium Expenditure Framework to concentrate on a few important infrastructure. Zambia today is confronted with many challenges, ranging from inadequate and unaffordable housing, inadequate bed spaces at all public high learning institutions, among others, and any such attractive loans must be quickly identified for these areas,” stated Ndoyi.