On 16 December 2020, Zambia’s Republican President His Excellency Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu launched the country’s Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) 2020-2023.
On 16 December 2020, Zambia’s Republican President His Excellency Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu launched the country’s Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) 2020-2023 that brings together a set of necessary multisectoral policies and interventions aimed at restoring and building back better the economy in order to deliver on the national priorities.
The ERP, under the theme restoring growth and safeguarding livelihoods through macroeconomic stability, economic diversification and debt sustainability, will focus on addressing the weaknesses observed in recent years, and building on lessons learnt in order to foster meaningful benefits at both macro and micro levels.
Speaking at the event held in Lusaka with strict adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures, President Lungu said that the initiative demonstrated government’s commitment to ensuring economic recovery that should result in an improvement in people’s lives.
“The launch of the programme signifies my government’s commitment to ensuring the economy is back onto a path that will lead to improving the livelihood of our people. This occasion signifies our commitment to reinvigorate the economy,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu also noted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and the people the world over.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has not just left many families unstable, but has consequently rendered governments vulnerable. Millions of workers in both formal and informal sectors have been thrown out of jobs, many employers have closed shop, hunger in homesteads is untold, revenues to governments have rapidly shrunk, and large amounts of money have been spent on stimulus packages to save populations from deaths as a result of hunger,” he said.
“It is worse for developing nations, like ours, encumbered by huge debts and whose economies were already struggling before COVID-19 came. Millions of our people are barely surviving and our economy is at the moment battered and stretched. Despite our relentless resolve to turn things around, the needs for our people are overwhelming and our resource envelope is thinning by the day.”
United Nations (UN) Zambia Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio said that the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated economic and other challenges among countries globally with Zambia included.
“Looking inwards, Zambia has not been spared by the COVID-19, and the pandemic’s effects and impact are not strange to anyone. Lives have been lost, schools were closed; hotels, restaurants, places of worship, factories, and workshops were closed; trade, wholesale and retail industries where nearly shut with massive labour releases and widespread unemployment throughout the country,” said Dr Gadio.
“COVID-19 has indeed worsened the constraints the country has been facing and has the potential to negate the efforts being implemented to steer the economy back to a positive growth trajectory,” she added.
The ERP was developed under the coordination of the ministries of Finance and National Development Planning with support from the United Nations through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Over the past few months, the UN Country Team in Zambia has supported Government efforts to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, targeting the most affected and the vulnerable so that they can weather the crisis and even bounce back better and faster and even go beyond. The support includes development and implementation of the UN Socio-Economic Response Plan as a direct contribution to the government-led COVID-19 Multi-sectoral Contingency Response.
The UN COVID-19 Socio-economic Response Plan is set to deliver on five pillars, aiming to help comprehensively protect the regular health system and services during the COVID-19 crisis; protect people through social protection programmes and basic services; protect jobs, small and medium-sized enterprises and vulnerable workers in the informal sector through economic recovery; help guide the necessary surge in fiscal and financial stimulus to make the macroeconomic framework work for the most vulnerable and foster sustainable development and strengthen multilateral and regional responses and promote social cohesion and build trust through social dialogue and political engagement and invest in community-led resilience.
The UN has classified the COVID-19 pandemic as more than just a health crisis, but as a socio economic, humanitarian, security, and a human rights crisis which has affected everyone everywhere. The organisation committed to supporting the implementation of the ERP as well as the broad objectives of the Seventh National Development Plan and the successor development plan whose formation is underway.
The ERP is timely for Zambia as the country has faced several challenges which have resulted in a subdued economic growth and increased economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities, including those brought by climate change effects, being drought and floods with COVID-19 adding to the list.