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LAUNCH STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE ALEXANDER BWALYA CHIKWANDA, MP MINISTER OF FINANCE AT THE LAUNCH OF THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE STRATEGIC PLAN

2012 2016 DELIVERED ON 3RD DECEMBER 2012 AT THE NEW GOVERNMENT COMPLEX LUSAKA
DISTINGUISHED GUESTS AND FELLOW MINISTRY OF FINANCE EMPLOYEES, MY FIRST TASK IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE PRESENCE OF MY COLLEAGUES, FORMER MINISTERS OF FINANCE. LET ME THANK YOU FOR HAVING ACCEPTED OUR INVITATION TO BE PART OF THIS OCCASION. WE APPLAUDE THE VALUABLE CONTRIBUTION THAT YOU HAVE MADE TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF THE MINISTRY. THE MINISTRY REMAINS OPEN TO BENEFIT FROM YOUR ENORMOUS WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE. IT IS MY PLEASANT DUTY TO ADDRESS THIS SPECIAL ASSEMBLY ON THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCH OF THE STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE. I SAY THIS IS A SPECIAL ASSEMBLY BECAUSE, FROM THE TIME I ASSUMED OFFICE AS MINISTER SLIGHTLY OVER A YEAR AGO, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I AM ADDRESSING AND INTERACTING WITH THE ENTIRE WORKFORCE OF THE MINISTRY. IT IS ALSO SPECIAL BECAUSE THIS OCCASION PROVIDES US WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO REFLECT ON THE MANY DEVELOPMENTS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE SINCE THE LAST STRATEGIC PLAN TO REPOSITION OURSELVES TO CONTINUE PROVIDING STRATEGIC DIRECTION FOR SUSTAINED SOCIOECONOMIC ADVANCEMENT OF THE COUNTRY IN LINE WITH THE VISION 2030 TO BECOME A PROSPEROUS MIDDLE INCOME NATION. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, DURING THE PERIOD OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LAST STRATEGIC PLAN, THE MINISTRY MANAGED TO ACHIEVE MEASURABLE PROGRESS PARTICULARLY IN MACROECONOMIC MANAGEMENT. SEEN AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF PERVASIVE POVERTY WE HAVE HUGE CHALLENGES TO ADDRESS JUST TO PUT OUR ECONOMY ON AN EVEN KEEL. THE MODEST GDP GROWTH RATES AVERAGING 6.1 PERCENT FROM 2003 2011 GIVE US A REASONABLE BASIS FOR SUSTAINABLE FORWARD LEAP IF ONLY WE CAN STRENGTHEN BOTH RESOLVE AND CAPACITY. GROWTH IN EXPORTS HAS BEEN ENCOURAGING, WITH GROSS INTERNATIONAL RESERVES RISING TO US $2.5 BILLION BY SEPTEMBER, 2012. THE EXTERNAL DEBT SITUATION SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED REDUCING FROM AS HIGH AS 142 PER CENT BEFORE THE DEBT RELIEF INITIATIVES TO ABOUT 15 PERCENT OF GDP IN 2012. DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, FELLOW MINISTRY OF FINANCE EMPLOYEES, WE ARE AWARE THAT, WHILE OUR MACROECONOMIC FUNDAMENTALS HAVE REMAINED STRONG, THE SOCIAL AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES REMAIN A CHALLENGE. UNEMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY HAVE REMAINED HIGH. THE COUNTRY EXPECTS US TO REPOSITION OURSELVES TO BETTER PROVIDE THE REQUIRED STRATEGIC DIRECTION AS WE CONTINUE OUR EFFORTS TO GENERATE EMPLOYMENT AND REDUCE POVERTY. AS WE CONTINUE WITH EFFORTS TO ADDRESS POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT, WE MUST ADAPT OUR STRATEGIES AND PROGRAMMES TO THE RAPIDLY CHANGING EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL ENVIRONMENTS. THE GLOBAL ECONOMY IS YET TO RECOVER FROM THE 2008/2009 FINANCIAL AND ECONOMIC CRISIS. THE RECOVERY HAS BEEN FURTHER COMPLICATED BY THE RECENT SOVEREIGN DEBT CRISIS IN THE EUROZONE. THE DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE ARE OF SIGNIFICANT INTEREST TO THE DEVELOPING WORLD INCLUDING ZAMBIA. THIS IS NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS REGION IN GLOBAL TRADE BUT ALSO BECAUSE EUROPE IS THE LARGEST SOURCE OF OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE TO ZAMBIA.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE ALSO WITNESSED DURING THIS PERIOD, THE RAPID ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION IN THE EMERGING MARKETS INCLUDING CHINA, INDIA, BRAZIL AND THE ECONOMIES OF SOUTH EAST ASIA. PROGRESS IN THESE COUNTRIES HAS PROVIDED A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES LIKE OURS. THE CRITICAL LESSON IS THAT, WITH A RIGHT KIND OF POLICIES, ACCELERATED ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION IS POSSIBLE WITHIN A GENERATION. THE DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE OF THESE SUCCESS STORIES ARE OF KEY INTEREST TO US IN THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE. THE RAPID GROWTH IN THESE COUNTRIES WAS LARGELY DRIVEN BY MASSIVE INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION WITH PARTICULAR EMPHASIS ON THE SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS. LOW INCOME DISPARITIES ALSO FAVOURABLY IMPACTED ON INCENTIVE. ON THE LOCAL FRONT, THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IS TRANSFORMING THE POSITIVE MACROECONOMIC PERFORMANCE INTO TANGIBLE IMPROVEMENT IN THE WELFARE OF THE MAJORITY. TO A LARGE EXTENT, THIS IS WHAT IS AT THE CORE OF THE MANDATE OF THE PF GOVERNMENT. IT WILL REQUIRE RADICAL ADJUSTMENT IN OUR WORK CULTURE OR ETHIC AND ALSO IN LEVELS OF COMMITMENT AND SENSE OF DUTY TO DELIVER THIS PF MANDATE. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE 2013 BUDGET WHICH IS CURRENTLY UNDER THE CONSIDERATION OF PARLIAMENT AS WELL AS THE 2013 TO 2015 MEDIUM TERM EXPENDITURE FRAMEWORK (MTEF), SET OUT THE ECONOMIC OBJECTIVES OF THIS GOVERNMENT. THESE DOCUMENTS ALSO HIGHLIGHT THE KEY INTERVENTIONS AND PROGRAMMES THAT WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO DELIVER, AMONG OTHER THINGS, A MILLION JOBS. THE PERFORMANCE OF THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS WILL BE CENTRAL TO THE OVERALL PERFORMANCE OF GOVERNMENT. A REVITALIZED, EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE MINISTRY OF FINANCE WILL BE REQUIRED TO PLAN EFFECTIVELY AS WELL AS RETAIN THE CAPACITY TO FINE TUNE AND ADAPT THESE PLANS TO: (a) RAPIDLY CHANGING, DYNAMIC AND COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT;

(b)

REMODEL RESOURCE MOBILIZATION SYSTEMS TO GENERATE SUFFICIENT RESOURCES FOR DEVELOPMENT AS WELL AS EFFICIENTLY DEPLOY THESE RESOURCES SO AS TO MAXIMIZE RETURNS ON GOVERNMENT EXPENDITURES; AND

(c) LASTLY, INSTITUTE ROBUST MONITORING AND ACCOUNTABILITY SYSTEMS THAT WILL ENSURE THAT GOVERNMENT RESOURCES ARE USED FOR THE INTENDED PURPOSES. DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS, THE STRATEGIC PLAN WHICH IS TO BE LAUNCHED TODAY PROVIDES THE GUIDE FOR THE MINISTRY TO EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY DELIVER ON ITS CORE MANDATES FOR THE NEXT 5 YEARS. THROUGH THIS PLAN, THE MINISTRY HAS REAFFIRMED ITS COLLECTIVE RESOLVE, AS THE LEADERSHIP AND STAFF OF THE MINISTRY, TO DELIVER THE EXPECTATIONS TO ALL OUR STAKEHOLDERS. HAVING SERVED IN THE MINISTRY FOR SLIGHTLY OVER A YEAR NOW, I WISH TO PUT ON RECORD THAT I AM HAPPY TO NOTE A LITTLE INCREASE IN THE LEVELS OF DEDICATION, SKILL AND PROFESSIONALISM OF BOTH THE MANAGEMENT AND STAFF IN THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE. I AM, THEREFORE, CONFIDENT THAT THE NEW STRATEGIC PLAN WILL BE IMPLEMENTED EFFECTIVELY. HOWEVER, LET ME REMIND YOU THAT WE HAVE ALONG WAY AND COMPLACENCY IS INEXPEDIENT. AS WE EMBARK ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRATEGIC PLAN, I WISH TO CALL UPON BOTH MANAGEMENT AND STAFF IN THE MINISTRY TO RENEW OUR COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE, PROFESSIONALISM, TEAMWORK AND INTEGRITY. THE STRATEGIC PLAN PROVIDES LATITUDE FOR US TO DEPLOY OUR COLLECTIVE CREATIVITY AND INTELLECTUAL RESOURCES FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF OUR COUNTRY. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT IS NOW MY SINGULAR HONOUR AND PRIVILEGE TO LAUNCH THE MINISTRY OF FINANCE STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE PERIOD 2012 TO 2016. THANK YOU.