Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) - Zambian President Michael Sata Friday opened the second session of the 11th National Assembly with a call on the opposition members of parliament to work together with government to foster development and improve the welfare of the people.
President Sata has recently been criticised by the opposition for appointing opposition MPs to ministerial positions, saying this is aimed at weakening the opposition in parliament.
But the President, in his address to Parliament, defended the ministerial appointments, saying he wants to take advantage of qualities that some opposition MPs have so they work with government.
“Let us work together as a team and liberate our people,” he said.
He also encouraged opposition MPs as well as those from the ruling party who are in the back bench to take ministers to task and offer constructive criticism in their debates to perform better.
President Sata also warned his ministers, who are in the habit of failing to provide answers to questions asked in parliament, that measures will be taken against them.
On the economic sector, the Sata said the Zambian economy is on course to attain a growth rate higher than the seven per cent that was projected for this year, and that government’s optimism is based on evolving prospects characterised by single digit inflation and decreasing interest rates.
Other indicators in the macroeconomic area include well managed government borrowing, stable exchange rate and increased private sector credit and investment, he said, adding that the overall growth strategy is to increase growth to an average of eight per cent per annum.
The President also said the decision by government last May to prohibit the quoting, paying or demanding to pay or receiving of foreign currency as legal tender for goods, services or any other domestic transactions is in defence of sovereignty over the local national currency, as is the practice in all other countries with stable economies.
He expressed regret that despite the favourable macro-economic conditions of the Zambian economy in the past one year, the country is still faced with a number of challenges, in particular the high level of poverty, especially in rural areas.
“Let me assure this august house that my administration is ready to address the challenges that the Zambian economy is faced with. In this regard, the government will continue to maintain strong fiscal prudence to ensure that resources are used wisely,” the President said.
The 2013 national budget, to be presented to parliament before the end of the year, will be the first under the direction of the Patriotic Front government which came to power in September 2011.
President Sata said this year’s budget would ensure that economic growth is inclusive and pro-poor, and that the focus will be on the strategic areas of education, health, agriculture, local government and housing and improved governance, with emphasis on rural development.
-0- PANA MM/SEG 21Sept2012