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EFFORTS by the Zambian government in implementing the Seventh National Development Plan, amid economic challenges, are commendable and deserve congratulations, Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States of America Embassy in Lusaka, Martin Dale has said.

Mr Dale said the USA would continue to cultivate a strategic partnership with Zambia to ensure that strong results in social sectors, private sector development, governance, treasury management, conservation, tourism and other priority areas of cooperation, were delivered.

He said this during a US-Zambia bilateral meeting with Finance Minister, Bwalya Ng’andu at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka, yesterday.

“We recognise the challenges that your economy is facing. We commend the progress that you have made in implementing the Seventh National Development Plan which we are keen to continue supporting,” he said.

Mr Dale called on the Minister to speed-up the identification of priority areas of external support under the current austerity model and to strengthen domestic resource mobilisation.

“We wish to see continued commitment in the implementation of austerity measures,” he stated.

Mr Dale also confirmed that a team from the US Treasury Department in Washington DC, had arrived in Zambia for bilateral engagements.

Speaking at the same event, Dr. Ng’andu disclosed that he had the full backing of Cabinet in his task of scaling-up the implementation of fiscal consolidation and austerity measures.

He reiterated that efficient debt management was an imperative which he had put at the top of his to-do list.

Dr. Ng’andu said while maintaining the compliance thrust in servicing the foreign debt, the Ministry of Finance would continue to pay special attention to dismantling domestic arrears “as this is what will unlock activities in the private sector and get the economy’s progress in an upward trajectory.”

“We have also put a lid on new borrowing and are critically at non-debt options like Public-Private-Partnerships for us to continue delivering public goods and services,” he affirmed.

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