THE Socialist Party says hiring of foreign companies for debt restructuring services is corrupt, wasteful and retrogressive.
The government of Zambia has engaged Highgate Advisory Limited as its communication advisor for the debt management process.
According to Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba, the government found it ideal to engage a specialised communication firm as a way of ensuring effective communication with all creditors and stakeholders.
Reacting to that decision, economist Dr Cosmas Musumali said senior officers in the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Zambia had, over the past 10 years, provided valuable options on how debt sustainability could be achieved.
He noted that several workshops have been held, study tours conducted, econometric models developed and a policy framework suggested.
“However, all these efforts were thrown away and rubbished because the PF leadership did not want a systematic structure and process for debt management,” Dr Musumali, the Socialist Party general secretary and first vice-president, said in a statement issued from the party’s secretariat in Lusaka’s industrial area. “Transparency and accountability was never a top priority. This is a government that thrives on chaos and disorganisation. They deliberately created conditions under which debt contraction could allow high-level corruption.”
He said the hiring of Highgate Advisory Limited by the Zambian government to advise on debt restructuring related to communication with all creditors and stakeholders, was shameful, a waste of taxpayers’ money and was symptomatic of the: “clueless PF government.”
Dr Musumali recalled that the Socialist Party had in May last year criticised the “unnecessary” US $5 million hire of the French company, Lazard Freres.
“This company was contracted to provide advisory services regarding liability management for Zambia’s debt portfolio. Our party had consistently given GRZ (Government of the Republic of Zambia) free advice on debt restructuring,” Dr Musumali noted. “We warned of the immense hardships the masses of our people were going to face as well as the damage to the international reputation of our country if no urgent action was taken.”
He indicated that in the typical arrogance and parasitic behaviour of the PF government, such advice fell on deaf ears.
“The Socialist Party views the hiring of foreign companies for debt restructuring services as corrupt, wasteful and retrogressive,” Dr Musumali said. “Today, GBP 333,403.54 from the taxpayer is going to be spent senselessly on Highgate Advisory Ltd!”
He added that Highgate Advisory Limited was, by all standards a briefcase company and whose owner had a questionable background.
“The picture emerging is that we have a cartel of former French graduates, who went through the corrupt, elitist Grande Ecole university system, worked in the finance and prime ministers’ offices, then went on to work for a number of dubious State actors that found themselves in a debt trap, such as in Greece and Ukraine,” he said.
Dr Musumali noted that in vulture-like style, such a cartel found out that corrupt and clueless governments, whose economies were dying under a debt burden, were the easiest victims.
He noted that such governments were ready to dish out millions of dollars to any “healer” who promises success, “without them being accountable to the citizens.”
“The Socialist Party calls upon all people with a heart for this country to strongly condemn this open theft and wasteful use of public resources,” said Dr Musumali.