IT IS a lie that Zambia is at loggerheads with the PTA Bank over the US$257 oil debt and Alliance for Democracy and Development president Charles Milupi has been accused of being an agent of misinformation over Government’s oil purchase indebtedness to the financial institution.
PTA Bank has said the Zambian Government has made several payments to dismantle the outstanding arrears to the financial institution and that it had no intentions of stopping financing Zambia’s importation of crude oil facility under the existing contract with the Government.
And Mr Milupi has backtracked on his earlier statement over the PTA bank’s purported ultimatum given to the Zambian Government to pay the accrued debt over oil financing deals.
Meanwhile, civil rights activist Brebner Changala has accused Mr Milupi of being used on a number of controversial issues where he has engaged himself not to the best interest of his party and his followers.
Mr Changala said that it was strange that Milupi would wish Zambia to fall in a bracket of an African failed State.
“How does Mr Milupi feel that the comment he made on the PTA Bank fuel story has now been disowned. Mr Milupi should not comment in order to impress the agenda of a malicious media house which has unfortunately found him to be an appendage,” Mr Changala said.
He hoped that Mr Milupi had not abandoned his desire to govern Zambia at some point for him to exhibit bitterness and frustration.
Mr. Milupi yesterday said what was important was that the country should stop getting credit and avoid living on borrowing regardless of whether the story about PTA was true or not.
“The point is, we are consuming oil that we are getting on credit. We are borrowing to consume. If you owe someone money, don’t be happy if he has not asked for it; that is not my issue, my issue is we are consuming while borrowing. What we are talking about is the economy,” he said.
Mr Milupi indicated that some comments on the matter may just be political statements which people may decide to support or not.
He, however, said everything hinged on the economy of the country and that is why he was asking Government to look at the economy of the country.
“We got the information from the (PTA)] board chairman (Oliver Saasa) who happens to be a Zambian. The issue is the statement that they (PTA) reminded them (Government). They are owed US$257 000 million. Now, nobody can be happy with that and sometimes we go political and we support, or we don’t support. My point is, our economy is going down. We are running out of money that is why we can’t even pay for the oil that we consume,” he said.
But Professor Oliver Saasa has said the relationship between the bank and the Government of Zambia had remained solid.
“I wish to allay fears that seem to have gripped the market in Zambia regarding possible withdrawal by the PTA Bank over the oil facility that we hold with the Government of Zambia.
“We are committed to serving Zambia in its oil purchases and indeed, I am glad to report that several payments have already been effected by the Government in its commitment to dismantle the outstanding arrears,” he said.
Prof Saasa said at no time had threats been used in the process of reminding its esteemed governments and other clients to honour overdue repayment obligations.
He said the bank’s recent communication with the Government was part of its routine and in no way was it intended to put conditions that should be interpreted as threats of termination of the oil facility under the existing contract.
“As confirmed by the president of the bank, Dr. Tadesse, in a press query following the leaked letters, the Board of Directors wish to restate that the relationship between the bank and the Government of Zambia has remained solid,” he said.
Prof Saasa said it was within the management’s routine procedure to communicate with its clients when the outstanding payments begin to affect its capacity to better serve them.
He said communicating to its clients was normal in the banking business, adding that the recent communication with the Zambian Government was part of this routine. Prof Saasa stated that Zambia was an important shareholder of the bank and the Minister of Finance was a member of the Board of Governors, as was the case in other member countries.
Prof Saasa said the board considers its relationship with Zambia as a long-term and solid one, adding that Zambia was a founder member state of the bank and housing the headquarters of COMESA.