By BUUMBA CHIMBULU

 TALKS between Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a possible economic bailout programme will soon be concluded with about 95 per-cent work done, the Ministry of Finance has announced.

And the ministry has announced that the IMF team will be in Zambia from 31st May to 9th June to conclude the discussions.

Ministry permanent secretary for Economic Management and Finance, Mukuli Chikuba, indicated that Government had concluded the paper work needed for the programme.

“Discussions are about the paper work that is needed to complete and go to the board, so just generally it is about what is required. We have procedures under Government and there are procedures under IMF.

“So we are about 95 percent done; we are rearing to go. What is remaining is a few clarifications and that will determine the amount of funding for the pro-gramme. That is why they are coming at the end of May,” he said.

He was speaking at the private sector briefing on the Government/IMF talks in Lusaka.

Mr Chikuba said the Zambian funding proposal would be taken to the IMF board for approval in the third quarter of 2017.

He disclosed that the IMF team was expected in Zambia from 31st May to 9th of June for final discussions.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Felix Mutati explained that the IMF discussions were all about prudent management of the economy.

“The IMF is not an animal but a friend. It is all about prudent management of the economy,” he said.

Mr Mutati said Government wanted to minimise poverty and create jobs while stabilising the economy.

He also said Government from January 2017 to date had contained a 1.5 percent Budget deficit against the 1.5 percent.

“In terms of dismantling of arrears, we have paid K3.3 billion, inducing the li-quidity required in the market. We have paid over K800 million to contractors and over K300 million to pensions as arrears; so we are facilitating the flow of liquidity,” he said.

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