The European Union (EU) has extended EUR 12 million or K241.2 million support as its immediate-term contribution to the Covid-19 response in Zambia.
According to a letter received by Finance Minister Dr. Ng’andu from the European Union Head of Delegation to Zambia, Dr. Jacek Jankowski, the EU’s planned immediate contribution to the Covid-19 response in Zambia consists EUR 2 million grant under the EU Global initiative for Covid-19.
The funds are for procurement of essential medicines and related commodities,Dr. Jankowski said.
Dr. Jankowski noted that the second component is a EUR 10 million grant mobilized by reprogramming the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
These funds will be channeled towards strengthening health systems and addressing the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Zambia,he said.
Dr. Jankowski also called on the Government to uphold the rights of citizens and exhibit the highest standards of accountability in implementing the Covid-19 response.
While recognizing the additional challenges linked to the present crisis, I would like to encourage the Government of Zambia to pursue these reforms in a coherent and consistent manner,Dr. jankowski said.
In response to the EU Head of Delegation, Finance Minister Dr. Ng’andu, welcomed the sincere counsel rendered by Dr. Jankowski, that the success of the reforms that Zambia has embarked on to ensure debt sustainability and restore the viability of key sectors such as energy, is crucial in unlocking direct foreign investment and expanding opportunities for the country to benefit from international financial assistance.
Dr. Ng’andu has since pledged that the Ministry of Finance is ready to engage the EU in exploring ways in which Zambia can further access support, using the options already available under the on-going EU-funded programs or through other possible facilities and means.
The Finance Minister also accepted the advice from the EU for the Zambian Government to make the most of potential new multilateral emergency support as well as the recent G20 initiative on debt relief.
Furthermore, the letter to the Minister of Finance also stated that the Swedish Government has also scaled-up resources under the current Sweden-Zambia Development Cooperation with a grant of USD12.4 million or K230 million.
The letter said that the USD2.1 million or K38.8 million facility received from Sweden is targeted at increased and equitable access to health and nutrition services for women, young people and children. It will also go towards supporting sexual and reproductive health programs.
It also stated that through the World Bank, Sweden has also up scaled its social cash transfer contribution of USD 6.1 million or K112.8 million, and through UNICEF, USD1.1 million or K20.4 million has already been disbursed by Sweden for the fight against the COVID- 19 pandemic.
Further, the letter stated that Sweden has also extended direct support to Zambia’s Covid-19 multi sectoral plan with support amounting to USD 3.1 million or K57.4 million.
In response to the gestures of strong cooperation demonstrated by the EU and Sweden, Dr. Ng’andu took the opportunity to appeal to recipient Ministries, Provinces and Agencies to ensure that the friendship and support demonstrated by the EU, Sweden and other partners is not betrayed by failure to conform to the tenets of good financial governance and accountability.
Dr. Ng’andu singled-out directorates of finance and audit units in all Ministries, Provinces and Agencies as being principal custodians of rules and regulations as contained in the Public Financial Management Act.
Should there be any wanton shortcomings, directorates of finance and audit units will be held accountable,the Minister warned.
The EU and Sweden have joined the group of cooperating partners that have extended support to Zambia’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and other associated programs.
The commitments by the EU and Sweden bring the total support from development partners in the last one month to K3.5 billion. The other cooperating partners who have contributed so far are Germany, United Kingdom, United States of America, African Development Bank, and the World Bank.