According to President Hakainde Hichilema, the country’s treasury is empty. According to Mr Hichilema, this is why the country has been unable to discharge its debt because there is no money in the treasury.
The President blamed the empty coffers on excessive expenditure and waste of public funds.
“We are taking over a country whose treasury is empty. The treasury is empty, there is no money” said President Hichilema.
Mr Hichilema said there is urgent need for a progressive budget that will realign management and usage of public resources away from consumption and wastage to revenue generation and investment in social and economic sectors.
The Head of State said this when he swore- in United Party for National Development ( UPND ) Liuwa Member of Parliament Situmbeko Musokotwane as Minister of Finance.
This will be Dr Musokotwane’s second stint as Minister of Finance, having served in the portfolio in the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) administration over ten years ago under former President Rupiah Banda.
President Hichilema said Dr Musokotwane is highly qualified and has vast experience having served in various positions such as Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor, Deputy Secretary to Cabinet for Economic Affairs as well as special economic advisor to late President Levy Mwanawasa.
President Hichilema has since tasked Dr Musokotwane to draw up a progressive budget and find money to ensure that services begin to reach all Zambians especially the youths and vulnerable mothers across the country.
Mr Hichilema said the office of the Minister of Finance is a core office for the realisation of campaign promises and his administration’s agenda of reviving the economy to promote business growth, and creation of jobs and wealth.
The President has therefore, directed the Minister of Finance to address the tendering process in government and ensure it is taken away from Lusaka to benefit all other regions.
Mr Hichilema stressed that his Presidency comes with a new way of doing things to ensure economic growth.
He said his administration remains committed to creating jobs, attaining food security, promoting business growth and education and health service delivery.
“Frivolous expenditure has no room in my administration except for fiscal discipline. There will no longer be large government delegations and government ministers and officials will have to downgrade from business class, “the President explained.
President Hichilema said his administration will adopt and pursue a zero-tolerance to corruption.
He said his government will let institutions mandated to fight corruption to do their professional job and ensure there is no political interference.
President Hichilema expressed delight that local authorities are already collecting revenue from markets and bus stations following the outlawing of cadreism.
He however challenged local authorities to ensure that they start providing the necessary services to their residents such as clean water, cleaning up markets, decent ablution services among others.
President Hichilema said his administration will vigorously pursue the implementation of the decentralization process as it holds the key to improving governance and provision of services to citizens.
The Head of State called for calm and patience as he continues to constitute his Cabinet. He said he was compelled to first appoint the minister of Finance in order for him to look for money and draw up a budget.
“Be patient, we are in no rush, we are organized, and methodical” said President Hichilema.
He assured that people will be appointed in government on merit and their surname will not be a factor.
The swearing’ in ceremony of Dr Musokotwane was witnessed by Vice President Mutale Nalumango, Secretary to the Cabinet Simon Miti, Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba and Zambia Revenue Authority Commissioner ,General Kingsley Chanda.
Others in attendance were UPND Alliance Council of presidents partners, UPND Secretary General, Batuke Imenda and other