No financial package yet – IMF

The Zambian Government did not request for an aid programme with the International Monetary Fund during the mission’s recent visit to Zambia, IMF director of communications Gerry Rice has said.

Mr Rice was speaking on Thursday at the IMF headquarters in Washington during a news briefing.

“On Zambia, the question is, it’s reported that the IMF proposed a billion dollar facility which the President had turned down. A sticking point for the President was the insistence by the IMF that the government commit to drastic reductions in expenditure, particularly on road construction. What is the IMF’s response? Well, just to be clear, the Zambian authorities did not and have not requested a programme with the IMF.

“But just a bit of context. There was an IMF staff team in Zambia during November to review recent economic developments and have discussions with the authorities. What was agreed was that the authorities and the IMF staff would remain closely engaged in the period ahead, and the Zambian authorities undertook to conduct internal consultations based on the outcome of the mission, which I mentioned,” Mr Rice said.

There has been speculation that the IMF mission to Zambia offered the Zambian Government  a US$1 billion aid package to resuscitate the ailing economy which was requested.

The speculation are to the effect that the offer fell through after President Edgar Lungu refused to accept the austerity measures that the IMF staff mission had attached to the aid package.