PARLIAMENT has given Government a go-ahead to lift its external debt ceiling through a Statutory Instrument from K60 billion to K160 billion and domestic debt ceiling from K13 billion to K30 billion in order to operationalize the 2016 budget.
By a vote of 79 members of Parliament in favour and 30 against the motion was passed after a division had been called.
The motion was moved by Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda
But opposing the motion, UPND Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo said the people of his constituency would never give Government a go-ahead to lift the debt ceiling.
Mr Nkombo said the money which Mr Chilwanda was asking MPs to allow him to borrow would be paid back by UPND and not the Patriotic front government.
UPND Lukulu West MP Misheck Mutelo said the borrowing was unrealistic and uncalled-for because Government had not clearly explained how it would pay back the loans.
And UPND Kalomo Central Member of Parliament Request Muntanga said it was difficult for him to endorse Mr Chikwanda’s request because he had failed to explain how Government would pay back the loans.
Mr Muntanga said it was clear that Government did not have proper intelligential advisors who could advice them on the dangers of contracting loans.
And MMD Mafinga Member of Parliament Catherine Namugala said it was a non-partisan motion and urged MPs not to make partisan decisions.
“Mr Speaker let me state from the start that I do not support this motion because it is hardly one year since he came to this House requesting us to allow Government lift the debt ceiling threshold from K35 billion to K60 billion. And today he has come back asking us to allow him borrow three times the money which he approved in the 2016 budget. I say ‘no’ to this motion and I don’t agree with the honourable minister,” she said.
Ms Mugala said borrowing was not the only way Government would raise resources.
She said Zambians should not be lazy but find ways of raising resources apart from borrowing.
“Don’t be a darling to your colleagues, you need to weigh the cost against the benefits
“You are giving me an impression that this country does not have real men who can revolutionalise this country. The country needs men who can think better,” Ms Namugala said. And Lunte Member of Parliament Felix Mutati said Government lacked the capacity to instil austerity measures. “Levels of poverty in the past four years have continued to increase, meaning our economic models are not working.”
And Chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said there was no country which could develop without borrowing.