4 December 2012

Zambia: 'Poverty High Despite Good Economic Indicators'

Government is concerned that poverty and unemployment still remain high despite the country recording strong macro-economic fundamentals.

Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda said during the launch of the 2012 to 2016 Strategic Plan in Lusaka yesterday that there was need for Government to reposition itself to better provide the required strategic direction as it continued its efforts to generate employment and reduce poverty.

"As we continue with efforts to address poverty and unemployment, we must adapt our strategies and programmes to rapidly changing external and internal environments," Mr Chikwanda said.

He said during the period of the implementation of the last strategic plan, the ministry managed to achieve measurable progress particularly in macro-economic management.

Mr Chikwanda said Government had huge challenges to address just in an effort to improve the country's economy.

He said the modest Growth Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate averaging 6.1 per cent gives the Government a reasonable basis for sustainable forward leap if only it could strengthen capacity.

"Growth in exports has been encouraging with the gross international reserves rising to US$2.5 billion by September 2012.

The internal debt situation significantly improved reducing from as high as 142 per cent before the debt relief initiatives to about 15 per cent of GDP this year," he said.

Mr Chikwanda also said one of the greatest challenges was transforming the positive macro-economic performance into tangible improvement in the welfare of the majority in the country.

He said this was what was at the core of the mandate of the Government and would require radical adjustment in its work culture and levels of commitment and sense of duty to deliver its mandate.

Through this strategic plan, the minister said Government had reaffirmed its collective resolve, as the leadership and staff of the ministry to deliver the expectations to all its stakeholders.

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