PRESIDENT Michael Sata has pledged to continue on the route of economic success recorded in the two years the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has been in office.
Addressing the National Assembly in the company of First Lady Christine Kaseba, President Sata described the opening of the third session as special in that it marked two years of hard work and success under his administration.
After observing a moment of silence in honour of late Information and Broadcasting Services Minister, Kennedy Sakeni who was Mansa Central Member of Parliament (MP), the President said the PF would not fail the aspirations of the Zambian people as it opens another chapter of implementing various growth strategies.
Mr Sata prioritised continued infrastructure growth, agricultural diversification, mining and job creation as the main thrust of economic emancipation ahead of unveiling the 2014 National Budget next month.
“The PF Government came into power to address the many social and economic challenges facing the Zambian people so as to restore their dignity and past glory. This is in line with the PF vision which is enshrined in our manifesto which states that the citizens of this land, not only deserve better lives but are entitled to better lives,” he said.
The Head of State said the country’s economy had continued to be positive, recording growth in the Gross Domestic Product of 6.8 per cent and 7.3 per cent in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
This was driven by the transport, communications, construction, agriculture, trade and manufacturing sectors.
He said inflation had remained at single digit, recorded at 7.1 per cent as at end of August, this year, while lending rates had fallen from an average of 20 per cent in 2012 to 16.3 per cent as at June, this year.
Mr Sata said Government’s initiative of borrowing through the US$750 million Euro bond had resulted in increased fiscal space for national development.
This had enabled the country to undertake projects such as the re-capitalisation of the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia in Kafue and that the production of fertiliser locally, would boost the performance of farmers and subsequently increase food security and generate employment.
The President said efforts to diversify the economy would be guided by the National Vision 2030, the revised Sixth National Development Plan covering the period 2013 to 2016 and the Decentralisation Policy.
“The focus will be on the key areas of agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, tourism, science and technology. Our goal is to achieve higher and sustained economic growth in order to alleviate poverty through rural development and job creation.
He said while steady progress had been made to expand primary school infrastructure, Government recognised the need to accelerate construction of new secondary schools to meet the growing demand for post-primary education.
In this regard, he said, construction of 32 secondary schools out of the targeted 84 had been completed.
He said in 2014, the remaining 52 schools, currently under construction, would be accelerated towards completion.
The President said the construction of Chalimbana and Palabana universities in Lusaka Province and Paul Mushindo at Lubwa Mission in Muchinga Province had commenced.
David Livingstone University in Southern Province, King Lewanika University in Western Province and Luapula University in Luapula Province would soon commence.
In a similar manner, President Sata directed the Minister of Education to address infrastructure rehabilitation at the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University and the Mulungushi University.
Meanwhile, newly-elected MPs, namely Mtolo Phiri for Chipata Central (MMD), Brian Chitafu for Kafulafuta (UPND), Villie Lombanya for Solwezi East (UPND), Ingrid Mpande for Mkushi North (PF) and MMD’s Mkaika MP, Peter Phiri, all took oath before the Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini.
President Sata thanked the electorate for participating in the recent by-elections but regretted the violence that characterised some of the polls.