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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Stakeholders in Zambia back plans to
seek innovative financing for growth   

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Stakeholders have backed the Zambian government’s plans to seek innovative financing for a national development blueprint, said a communique issued on Monday following a stakeholders’ meeting.

Delegates who attended the National Development Coordinating Committee said innovative ways were required to finance the country’s Seventh National Development Plan in order to meet its objectives.

The communique noted that the development plan, launched in 2017 and runs up to 2021, has suffered setbacks in its implementation due to challenges such as insufficient funding due to limited fiscal space, too ambitious targets given the current fiscal balance and inadequate and untimely availability of finances, among others.

The communique further said the disbursements of funds for implementation of the plan were consistently lower than budgeted for and not on time, hence destabilizing its implementation.

It added that cooperating partners have not yet fully come on board to help fund the plan and that there has been increasingly more reliance on revenue generation that has not been consistent.

The stakeholders have since asked the government to engage with cooperating partners so that they could meet their accountability requirements as well as find an integrated system of implementing the plan.

The development plan is a multisectoral-devised development blueprint aimed at attaining the country’s long-term objectives as outlined in the Vision 2030 of becoming a prosperous middle-income country by 2030. 

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EARLIER REPORTS:

Zambia still owes mining firms sizable VAT refunds

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government still owes mining firms around 550 to 600 million U.S. dollars in value added tax (VAT) refunds, an industry body said on Thursday.

The situation has not changed on the ground as the country’s revenue agency, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA), has not honored its promise to pay back the refunds by next year, Sokwani Chilembo, chief executive officer of the Zambia Chamber of Mines, told reporters.

He hoped that the government would be able to honor its obligations as the money was needed by the mining firms in their operations.

Zambia’s rising debt and alleged hidden borrowing have increased concerns, hampering investors and Western donors in recent months.

Last month, the revenue agency said in a statement that it returned over 80 percent of funds owed in VAT refunds to the mining sector between January and October this year.

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Students in Zambia’s public universities urged to
be calm over gov’t plans to scrap meal allowances

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- A union representing students in Zambia’s public universities on Monday urged the students to be calm and not to cause anarchy following reports that the government intends to scrap meal allowances next year.

There is growing anxiety among students from public universities following reports attributed to Higher Education Minister Nkandu Luo that the meal allowances will be scrapped from next January.

Misheck Kakonde, president of the Zambia National Students Union, called on the student population to be calm as the union has opened what was described a fruitful dialogue with the authorities over the matter.

He said the union wants to get a clear position on the matter from the authorities on whether the reports were correct or not.

“We are not aware of any regulations or statutory instrument that could have been issued to abolish the provision of meal allowances, as yet,” he said in a press release. “The report must not raise any unnecessary anxiety among students.”

He said government delays to meet its obligations in paying allowances, which are part of the students’ loan and grant agreement, must not become an excuse for students to cause unrest or damage to public property.

Delayed meal allowances caused student unrest in Zambia’s public universities in the past.

Last week, students at a university in Kitwe, in Copperbelt Province, protested over delayed payment of the allowances, caused damage to some vehicles.

In October, a student at the University of Zambia, in Lusaka, the country’s capital, died due to suffocation when police fired teargas in student hostels to quell riots over meal allowances.

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Zambian court frees activists arrested after anti-corruption protest

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- A court in Zambia on Friday freed six activists who were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly after they staged a protest over rising corruption.

Magistrate Mwaka Mikalile acquitted the six activists, among them popular musician Fumba Chama, known by the name Pilato, citing insufficient evidence presented by the prosecution.

Mikalile said the activists were within their rights to demonstrate outside the parliament building as they had followed the law by notifying the police.

The court said the police acted unprofessionally in arresting the activists.

The six were arrested in September last year when they demonstrated outside parliamentary grounds during the presentation of the budget.

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