AfDB's Annual Meeting draws attention to Zambian progress
The 51st Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the 42nd Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Fund (ADF) convened in Lusaka during the final week of May under the theme 'Energy and Climate Change'.
The meetings focused on critical African economic and development issues, election of new executive directors and the approval of policies, strategies and the Group's 2015 audited accounts and operations programmes. According to the AfDB, the Meetings hosted more than 4,000 participants including heads of state and government, members of the Boards of Directors, delegates, business leaders, and representatives of the private sector, civil society organisations and the media.
The AfDB first started working with Zambia in 1971, and since then has committed more than $1 billion in infrastructure and budget support to the country, and an estimated $150 million to private sector loans. Zambia's programme with the Bank now focuses on diversification, which fit well with the climate change theme. The next two AfDB Annual Meetings will not be held in Africa--next year's will be in Ahmedabad, India, and the 2018 meeting will be in Busan, South Korea.
World Bank advises subsidy reduction on fuel
In the World Bank's most recent Zambia Economic Brief, Beating the slowdown: Making every kwacha count the multilateral institution advised that the government revise fuel prices to more accurately reflect cost and budget pressures.
The report estimated that fuel subsidies have averaged $36 million per month between September 2015 and May 2016. With average electricity subsidies of $26 million per month in the same period, subsidies have eaten into the country's budget by more than $576 million. Zambia's trade balance has worsened in recent months due to a drop in commodities prices and corresponding pressure on the kwacha.
"To beat the slowdown, there is a need to make every kwacha of Government expenditure count. Any fiscal adjustment should be accompanied by a shift in spending priorities that support the efficiency of public expenditure," the report stated.
"There is need to identify and reallocate under-utilised resources to ensure that every kwacha spent is contributing towards each sector's objectives," it continued, adding that a price settling mechanism for fuel is a priority. It recommends that additional funds from the reduced subsidy could help meet a mounting power crisis.
United Bank of Africa and Zampost partner on payments
Under the Civil Servants Payment project, which was first approved by the Zambian Cabinet and the Bank of Zambia in 2013, United Bank for Africa (UBA) and the Zambia Postal Services Corporation (ZAMPOST) have partnered on salary payments for civil servants in remote parts of the country.
UBA Zambia Managing Director Stanley Ugwuenze told Times of Zambia that he bank had provided over 15,000 prepaid cards to the Zambia National Farmers Union and 100,000 to other farmers under the e-voucher system for accessing farming inputs. He also said UBA had also introduced a new product called Africash specifically designed for cross- border traders working between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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