Speaking at the end of year briefing in Kitwe last week, Mr Chishimba said the debt crisis the country is currently in has the potential to reverse all the economic and social development gains that have been scored so far.
He said while ZCTU welcomes the governments’ launch of the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), particularly its focus on strengthening social protection, the plan does not explain how the country will dismantle its huge debt burden.
“We urge the government to ensure fiscal discipline in its systems in order to achieve the set economic parameters. If there will be no improvements to financial governance, the ERP will achieve very little,” Mr Chishimba said.
He urged government to develop strong institutional collaboration and scale up stakeholder engagement in the implementation of the ERP to ensure genuine social dialogue, transparency and inclusive participation.
Mr Chishimba said the country’s debt burden has been rising dramatically thereby exposing the country to the risk of distress.
He said the high debt levels have left the country in an awkward financial position more so that the debt is contracted in foreign currency which means each time the Kwacha weakens, the amount that Zambia owes in real terms increases significantly.
Meanwhile, Mr Chishimba has commended workers in the country for courageously absorbing the economic and social challenges they experienced in 2020 mainly on account of the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The ZCTU president noted that the year 2020 was a difficult year for everyone but that despite the challenges, workers stood out and moved on.
Mr Chishimba said COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge the world has faced since the outbreak of the Second World War and that although it was a health issue, its impact will be felt across many spheres for a long time to come.
“COVID-19 has reminded us that health is a fundamental right and attribute that we must all enjoy to be able to have a meaningful life and COVID-19 has also exposed some major structural weaknesses that the country must address to cushion itself from the effects of similar crises,” he observed.
The ZCTU end of year briefing was held at the union’s offices in Kitwe.