Zambia has begun to liquidate the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) longstanding and mounting debt to pension managers.
A press statement from Tazara quoted its Managing Director Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika, saying that, following the meetings held with officials of the office of the Secretary to the Treasury and Director of Investment and Debt Management in Lusaka, Tazara is soon to receive Zambian Kwacha 15bn out of the ZK45.5bn allocated in the Zambian Government’s 2012 budget. (USD1 is approximately ZK5, 000).
He elaborated that the ZK10.5bn will be directed towards alleviating the plight of Tazara retirees by reducing indebtedness to the Zambia State Insurance Corporation (ZSIC) and National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA), so as to enable them pay out more of the dues to Tazara pensioners.
“The remaining balance, ZK4.5bn is intended to meet costs of civil works and procurement of additional maintenance equipment for the Mpika Workshops…” the managing director said.
ZK30bn is the overall residual, Mbikusita-Lewanika said that Tazara is looking forward to the money being released as it is urgently needed to fund works at Mpika and for the general recapitalisation of Tazara, a fact the two shareholding governments acknowledge as ‘urgently called for.’
Although the 2012 budget allocation was an appreciable material testimony of political will and monetary support, Tazara is nonetheless in need of much more and much faster. The managing director conceded that a favorable fund allocation in the 2013 budgets would go a long way since much more is needed to ‘liquidate the indebtedness to pension managers and to adequately recapitalise Tazara’.
Laying out the dire situation he explained that “…what is owed may have to be paid out in two or three additional annual installments because retirement dues in Zambia and Tanzania were already over USD86m by the end of 2009, and have been increasing ever since…”
The Tazara official has great expectations from Tanzania citing indications that 22bn/- was under consideration towards liquidating the Tazara pension debt stock and relieving Tazara retirees on the Tanzanian side.