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Dear editor,

May I also add my little voice on the depreciation of the Kwacha against the US dollar.

The depreciation of the Kwacha against the US dollar can mostly be attributed to the procurement of most of our goods and services in US dollars, or in short we import most of our services and consumables.

Currently the biggest forex expense we have is debt repayment towards the loans we have contracted to embark on the massive overpriced infrastructure and road constructions, importation of fertilizer at a very huge cost and middlemen-controlled procurement of fuel.

By now some technocrats in government should have realized that the structure of awarding 80% of contracts to foreigners and only a doubtful 20% to locals is making the country bleed dollars at a very alarming rate!

This should change with immediate effect! Mostly what these foreigners bring in is the expertise and experience, so why not give them say 5% for consultancy and 15% for project management?

Then the rest of the 80% which is mostly the labour and the actual execution part goes to the locals? It doesn’t make sense to get a loan from China to build roads and infrastructure, then still give the same Chinese the contracts to execute the same.

Forgetting that we still have to pay back China these loans with interest, then what is our benefit as a country? The main reason behind considering foreigners for such contracts is for skills and technology transfer, so are we saying that up to now our engineers, surveyors, project managers all the way to casual workers haven’t learnt anything from the time the Chinese started doing roads and infrastructure for us?

Apart from that, our country is bleeding forex by importation of fertilizer at a very huge cost instead of revamping our very own and capable Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia to be producing the same. We also don’t need middlemen in our fuel procurement chain as fuel/crude oil is very readily available in many sources now as compared to years past. Our other forex leakage also comes from importation of consumables like food and beverages, also by letting foreigners run local businesses and yet quote them in foreign currency!

This has to stop with immediate effect if we are to seriously control the depreciation of the Kwacha and arrest the skyrocketing commodity prices! Otherwise where are we going to get the dollars to pump back into our economy if we keep sending all the dollars out of the country and none are coming in?

The only sure way to get out of this mess is by consuming local, contracting local, empowering local industries and securing market for local products.

Local is laka!

Arthur Teleshi
NDC Nchanga aspiring MP