Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu has announced that the European Union has extended EUR12M or K241.2M support as its immediate-term contribution to the Covid-19 response in Zambia.
And in another development, the Swedish Government has scaled-up resources under the current Sweden-Zambia Development Cooperation with a grant of US$12.4M/K230M. The funds are for equitable health, social cash transfer, nutritional programmes and sexual and reproductive health programmes.
According to a letter received by Dr Ng’andu from the European Union Head of Delegation to Zambia Dr Jacek Jankowski, the EU’s planned immediate contribution to the Covid-19 response in Zambia consists EUR2M grant under the EU Global initiative for Covid-19. The funds are for procurement of essential medicines and related commodities. The second component is a EUR10M grant mobilised by reprogramming the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). These funds will be channelled towards strengthening health systems and addressing the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Zambia.
Future additional support expected from the EU includes:
- EUR96M or K1.93B blend facility from the European Development Fund (EDF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to facilitate increased access to finance by private sector players in the agriculture and renewable energy sectors;
- EUR6.3M or K126.6M grant for eligible Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organisations, for children and youth protection programmes; and,
- EUR20M or K402M projected grants from EU member states through new allocations and reprogramming of existing allocations for the benefit of water and sanitation service programmes; and, strengthening prevention, health, and social protection systems.
Commenting on the latest good news, Dr Ng’andu welcomed the sincere counsel rendered by Dr Jacek Jankowski that the success of the reforms that Zambia has embarked on to ensure debt sustainability and restore the viability of key sectors such as energy, is crucial in unlocking direct foreign investment and expanding opportunities for the country to benefit from international financial assistance.
In response to a proposal by the EU Head of Delegation, Dr Ng’andu has pledged that, together with his senior management team and the rest of the staff, the Ministry of Finance is ready to engage the EU in exploring ways in which Zambia can further access support using the options already available under the on-going EU-funded programmes or through other possible facilities and means.
Dr Jankowski called on the Government to uphold the rights of citizens and exhibit the highest standards of accountability in implementing the Covid-19 response. He also advised the Government to pursue the reforms in a coherent and consistent manner, a matter which the Minister has also agreed to in the affirmative.
“While recognising the additional challenges linked to the present crisis, I would like to encourage the Government of Zambia to pursue these reforms in a coherent and consistent manner,” wrote Dr. Jankowski.
Dr Ng’andu also accepted the advice of the EU for the Zambian Government to make the most of potential new multilateral emergency support as well as the recent G20 initiative on debt relief.
And the US$2.1M/K38.8M facility received from Sweden is targetted at increased and equitable access to health and nutrition services for women, young people and children. It will also go towards supporting sexual and reproductive health programmes.
Through the World Bank, Sweden has also upscaled its social cash transfer contribution US$6.1M/K112.8M. And through UNICEF, US$1.1M/K20.4M has already been disbursed by Sweden for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Further, Sweden has also extended direct support to Zambia’s Covid-19 multi-sectoral plan with support amounting to US$3.1M/K57.4M.
Summing-up remarks on the gestures of strong cooperation demonstrated by the EU and Sweden, Dr Ng’andu took the opportunity to appeal to recipient Ministries, Provinces and Agencies to ensure that the friendship and support demonstrated by the EU, Sweden and other partners are not betrayed by failure to conform to the tenets of good financial governance and accountability.
Dr Ng’andu singled-out directorates of finance and audit units in all Ministries, Provinces and Agencies as being principal custodians of rules and regulations as contained in the Public Financial Management Act.
“Should there be any wanton shortcomings, directorates of finance and audit units will be held accountable,” warned the Minister.
The EU and Sweden have today joined the group of cooperating partners that have extended support to Zambia’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and other associated programmes. The commitments by the EU and Sweden bring the total support from development partners in the last one month to K3.5B. The other cooperating partners who have contributed so far are Germany, United Kingdom, United States of America, African Development Bank, and the World Bank.
Source: Financial Insight Zambia