LUSAKA, A delegation of grain traders and other business people from Kenya is expected in Zambia this week for talks on importing maize from Zambia, says Finance Minister Felix Mutati.
Mutati told the media here Tuesday that Zambia expects a bumper harvest of 3.6 million tons maize this year against annual consumption of 1.6 million tons, leaving the country with adequate maize for export.
He said the the discussion with the Kenyan buying delegation will focus on the quantity and the modes for transporting the grain.
Mutati also disclosed that Zambia’s economic growth in the first half of this year had been positive with inflation dropping to 6.5 per cent compared with a 9.0 per cent target.
He said the lowering of the Monetary Policy Rate and Reserve Ratio to 12.5 per cent by the Bank of Zambia had also had a positive impact on the cost of money.
However, the government is still grappling with issues of debt sustainability, domestic resource mobilisation, and fiscal consolidation as major challenges.
He said this year, the government had paid 4.2 billion Kwacha (about 450 million US dollars) out of an estimated 17.2 billion kwacha in arrears to contractors, pensioners and fuel suppliers, among others.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Finance Permanent Secretary for Economic Management Mukuli Chikuba voiced concern that lending rates in the country have remained high despite the loosening of the monetary policy rate by the Bank of Zambia. Chikuba has also stated that Zambia’s external debt totals 7.2 billion USD while domestic debt is 38.6 billion Kwacha.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK