President Lungu shares economic benchmarks with business leaders

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President-elect Edgar Lungu, has today met business leaders at a special breakfast meeting at which he hinted at broad policy measures to accelerate economic growth and control spending during the next five years of his tenure.

Addressing more than 70 captains of commerce and industry at Lusaka’s Chrismar Hotel today, President-elect Lungu said he aims at creating a more stable and predictable open market environment with increased consultation between Government and the business community.

President Lungu said he will take painful but decisive measures to grow the economy and control expenditure by 2012.

He said he is glad that one of the major benefits from the current constitutional order is that it assures stability in policy formulation and implementation because there is no fear of disruption in the Presidency for a period of five years due to the running-mate arrangement.

This is contained in a statement made available to ZANIS in Lusaka today by his Special Assistant for Press and Public relations

President Lungu said business confidence has oftentimes suffered because of the frequent changes in the Presidency in the last seven years.

He said all the ministers he will appoint will be required to be business and public-friendly because dialogue will be the hallmark of his Presidency.

President Lungu said all components of the IMF Programme will be mutually agreed as government and the IMF have made great progress and reached broad consensus on the key areas of the Programme.

The Head of State hinted that there is need for a rapid but progressive migration to a cost-reflective tariff structure in the electricity and fuel sectors and restructuring of the agriculture support programme under which government provides subsidies for seed and fertilizer.

The President also announced plans to restructure the Food Reserve Agency into strictly an entity for purchasing strategic food reserves saying this would reduce on FRA’s demands on the Treasury.

He said the FRA has done tremendously well in reducing crop waste and now they want them to reduce on its resource demands on the Treasury.

Meanwhile Co-moderators of the business breakfast, entrepreneurs Guy Phiri and Mark O’Donnell delivered a message of congratulation on behalf of the business forum, which has organised itself as an independent think-tank to advice government on the interests of industry.

CEO of Pangaea Securities Limited Caesar Siwale said there was not much panic among investors during the pre -election period but instead they saw remarkable transactions by major corporations buying assets on the Zambian market.

However, President Lungu said Zambia is a promising economy in Africa and has attracted significant regional and international investment over the last decade.

“However, the past decade has also shown at various times how vulnerable the Zambian economy is to the global economic growth trends and has found itself amidst a global decline in commodity prices, emerging market interest and exchange rate price volatility and ever increasing electricity utility shortages due to slow infrastructure investment, thus not being able to keep up with demand from a growing economy”, said President Lungu.

“As a government, we are here to listen to you and ensure that our local businesses are protected from the absolute advantages international companies have,” the President added.

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