Tuesday 16th January 2018

President Lungu Assures Economic Progress In New Year Address

Countrymen and women:

Good evening!

I am delighted to address you all on the eve of the new year, 2018.

Tonight marks the end of our journey in the year 2017. It is a journey which has brought us to a place where we are able to have a clear view of our performance over the last twelve months.

More importantly, tonight, we stand on the verge of yet another journey, a journey into 2018.

The dawn of a new year is cause for celebration. It is also a time to show love and care for one another. A time for self-introspection, reflection, and new resolutions. Indeed, a time for renewed hope, reconciliation and a fresh start.

As we wish ourselves a happy and prosperous 2018, let us do so with a sense of gratitude and responsibility. We are a nation and a people of faith. As such, we take full recognition that God is always in our midst.

Countrymen and women:

Indeed, 2017 was another year in which we can attest to the mercy of God upon our nation. Let me, therefore, thank the Lord God almighty, for his abundant blessings on our country in 2017. His grace saw us safely through the year.

In attesting to the kindness of God, our nation, in 2017, scored some successes. Our economy continued to perform favorably.

We are closing the year at the projected gross domestic product growth rate of 4.2 percent compared to 3.8 percent registered in 2016.

Inflation declined to single-digit and reached 6.6 percent in the third quarter. The exchange rate of the Kwacha against major currencies remained relatively stable. This resulted in the general stability of commodity prices on the domestic market.

Countrymen and women:

In 2017, electricity generation increased from 3 million megawatts in the fourth quarter of 2016 to 3.69 million megawatts in the third quarter of 2017. As such, load shedding significantly reduced. This contributed to a rebound in economic activities especially for our brothers and sisters running small businesses, such as welding, bakeries, butcheries, barber shops and hair salons.

With regard to infrastructure development, we continued to undertake major projects in various sectors of the economy including health, education, transport and communication, all contributing to job creation.

Countrymen and women:

Once completed, the projects will provide a conducive environment for our people, better learning facilities for our children as well as increase investment and trade. This will contribute to the country’s gdp and, ultimately, enhance the wellbeing of our people.

The business environment in 2017 recorded significant improvement. Our citizens are now able to access credit using movable assets such as bicycles, sewing machines and fridges among others, as collateral.

In addition, our citizens are able to register and remit taxes online from the comfort of their homes and business places.

The improvement in the business environment is attested to by the positive change in Zambia’s ranking from 98 in 2016 to 85 out of the 190 countries according to the latest World Bank doing business report. This development will help boost investor confidence in our economy.

Countrymen and women:

In our continued effort to reduce poverty, the government scaled up investment in social protection programmes. This year alone, the number of households on social cash transfer programme increased from 242,000 in 78 districts to 590,000 in all the 109 districts of our country. This has resulted in improved livelihoods.

We cannot celebrate 2017 without recognizing the glory brought to the country by the under-20 national football team which won the under-20 Africa cup of nations championship for the first time, ever!

The boys further made all of us, and Africa as a whole proud, by achieving the first quarter-final appearance at the under-20 world cup tournament in South Korea.

We continue to commend them for exhibiting such a noble spirit and flying high like our national symbol, the eagle.

Despite the successes recorded, we have to address a number of challenges. These include poverty and unemployment, low private sector investment in electricity generation, public security, disease, diminishing levels of patriotism, moral decay, gender-based violence and political intolerance.

To address some of the challenges encountered in 2017, the government took bold but necessary decisions.

We decided to migrate to cost-reflective electricity tariffs to attract more investment and to meet our growing demand for electricity.

This decision, though painful, has started achieving positive results.

To promote morality, social justice and adherence to the national values and principles, the government created the ministry of national guidance and religious affairs.

Countrymen and women:

Let me thank each one of you for your resilience amidst the tough but necessary decisions we took to maintain peace and unity towards national development.

I also thank cooperating partners and the private sector for your contribution towards the successes recorded in 2017.

I am confident that, in the coming year, we will, by working together, overcome obstacles that may come our way.

As we enter the new year 2018, let us be more determined and resolved to working hard to achieve prosperity for all.

In 2018, the government will work towards growing the economy by at least 5 percent and maintaining a stable exchange rate and a single-digit inflation rate.

Countrymen and women:

We will strengthen domestic revenue collection and accelerate economic diversification to create new jobs and more wealth for our people.

To ensure that we leave no one behind, and improve quality of life for our citizens, government will continue to modernise and expand public services. At the centre of government and its ability to deliver, there must be a dedicated and focused public service.

Government will continue to ensure that the implementers of its programmes, our public servants, are placed in appropriate places country-wide and capacitated to deliver the much needed services to our people.

We will also continue to promote a conducive political environment through dialogue, peaceful resolution of disputes and upholding the rights and freedoms of our citizens.

Countrymen and women:

I, therefore, urge the church, religious groups and traditional leaders to continue giving counsel to the state, individuals and other stakeholders.

I also call upon all stakeholders to conduct their affairs in a responsible manner and within the confines of the law.

The task ahead of us is huge. It requires that we work together for the common good. In the book of Isaiah chapter 2, verse 4, we are implored to beat the swords that threaten our unity into plough-shares.

We hold the key to unlocking the potential of what we and this country can be. Together we can transform our country into a prosperous and all-inclusive nation.

Let us build a nation where everyone contributes to the best of their ability; a nation where everyone gets a fair share from their hard work; a nation abundant in compassion, love and care, especially for the weakest members of our society. Let us build a nation that works for all.

As we celebrate the coming of the new year, 2018, it is important that we continue to uphold our national values and principles so that we are defined and identified by what is good and just in our words and deeds. Let us all be champions of integrity, morality, patriotism and national unity.

Let us be promoters of human dignity, social justice and inclusiveness.

Let us make the mantra of “leaving no one behind” a reality. Let us move together in line with our national motto, “One Zambia One Nation”.

Countrymen and women:

Let us also protect the environment and keep our surroundings clean. A clean and safe environment will contribute to a disease-free Zambia. We are all too familiar and tired of cholera and other diseases associated with a dirty environment.

The shame, risk and cost associated with a filthy environment is unacceptable.

Let us act together to contain the cholera outbreak in lusaka by taking such simple but critical actions of regular hand-washing, avoiding unnecessary handshakes and communal gatherings and keeping our food and drinking water safe. Let us keep our toilets and bathrooms clean all the time.

I am concerned with the pace of farming inputs distribution and therefore, I direct all those tasked with this onerous responsibility to do more to get seed and fertiliser to all parts of country.

Country men and women:

It has been a challenging one year coming out of a tightly contested general election that hightened political tension for a considerable portion of the year.

We lost a lot of time getting the country back to work. I am glad that most of the post-election problems have been resolved. But we still have a collective responsibility to transform these challenges, into good lessons for the future.

We all must come to national dialogue in good faith for the sake of mother Zambia. Personally, and we in the patriotic front, pledge full support to any credible process of dialogue.

We are not prepared to lose any more time on political trivialities. We have government to run; we have a country to take care of. People want tangible progress on many fronts and so we should not subject them to fruitless arguments.

We therefore commit to broad-base constitutional, legal and electoral reforms designed to bring about a more open and tolerant political dispensation all round.

As we begin our journey into the new year, we should remain resolved to doing more for ourselves, our communities and the nation than we did in 2017. Let us, once again, commit to working even harder for the good of our nation, our children and generations to come.

Countrymen and women:

As we bid farewell to 2017 and welcome the year 2018, in a few hours, I appeal to everyone to celebrate responsibly and within the confines of the law to maintain peace, preserve life and property, and continue to contribute positively to the development of our country.

To the motorists, I urge you to observe all traffic rules. To those of us who drink, my appeal is do not drink and drive. The escalating incidences of road traffic accidents in our country are a cause for serious concern. It should, therefore, be the resolve of each one of us to reverse this trend by simply observing the rules that govern how we should behave on the road.

To our youth, remember you are the future of this great nation. Everything you do must be done responsibly and in line with our values and principles. Celebrate responsibly, respect elders and show gratitude for the good things around you.

As I conclude, let me implore all of you to work towards galvanising national unity and promoting peace, love, and good health for all.

May there be joy in our hearts, homes and communities. May there be happiness and prosperity for all in 2018. By working together, we can take our country to greater heights.

May God richly bless you all and bless our beloved country, Zambia.

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