GOVERNMENT has spent about K1 billion on rentals for former Republican President Rupiah Banda's residence, Finance Deputy Minister Miles Sampa has said.
Mr Sampa said Government had spent K1 billion on Mr Banda's house rentals and would further spend K1.4 billion to construct his house from the 2013 national Budget.
He said it was therefore illogical for UPND cadres to petition Government's decision to allocate K1.4 billion for the construction of President Michael Sata's retirement house.
The deputy minister explained that Government had allocated money for the construction of houses for Mr Banda, late Frederick Chiluba's widow and that of late President Levy Mwanawasa.
Mr Sampa was speaking in Lusaka yesterday during the MTN Zambia Media Breakfast.
"In the case of President Sata, if the house finishes while he is still in State House, it will remain in Government's hands and the Head of State will have to wait until he leaves office.
"We don't want to see a situation like what happened in the past when former Heads of State were made to stay in rented houses," he said.
He noted that if the former MMD administration had built a retirement house for Mr Banda in advance, Government would not have spent K 1billion on rentals.
Recently, UPND cadres petitioned Parliament on Government's decision to allocate money towards construction of Mr Sata's house.
Meanwhile, Mr Sampa said Government had lost about US$2 billion (K10 trillion) in the recent years in form of tax avoidance by some mining firms.
The Government would implement stringent measures to curb the vice next year.
He said Government would act 'smarter' to ensure funds were put to intended developmental use.
Mr Sampa said Government had introduced incentives in the 2013 Budget to facilitate growth of Small and Medium Entreprises (SMEs).
On MTN Zambia, Mr Sampa hailed the telecommunication service provider for being one of Government's reliable partners in development.
Earlier, MTN Zambia chief marketing officer Philip Besiimire said the firm would hit about 3.5 million customers this year.
Next year, he said, MTN would continue with network roll out.
Mr Besiimire said MTN Zambia would continue with empowerment programmes such as media awards, support AFCON 2013 in South Africa and sponsor Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) Lremier League.