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MPs permit government to borrow K160 billion

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Sosten Gwengwe

Parliament Tuesday authorised Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe to borrow K160.6 billion for the second phase of the Shire Valley Transformation Programme (SVTP) and the Eastern and Southern African Higher Education Africa Centres of Excellence Project.

Treasury will borrow the money from the International Development Association of the World Bank.

SVTP will get K140 billion while K20.6 billion will go to the Eastern and Southern African Higher Education Africa Centres of Excellence Project.

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Opposition Democratic Progressive Party and United Democratic Front spokespersons supported the borrowing.

As part of the Eastern and Southern African Higher Education Africa Centres of Excellence Project, the government will also access a grant of K10.3 billion.

Speaking when he presented the SVTP bill, Gwengwe said the main objective of the project is to develop irrigated commercial agriculture and strengthen the management of natural resources in the targeted areas in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.

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He said the second phase of the project is, among other things, aimed at developing the irrigation infrastructure and providing related services such as constructing the main canal through Lengwe National Park; completing detailed designs for secondary canals; and constructing secondary canals, drainage and flood protection works and access roads.

He added that the second phase is also aimed at constructing an office for the Department of Irrigation and the Special Purpose Vehicle to oversee the implementation of the project; and financing resettlement compensation for affected communities.

Last week, Gwengwe indicated that the country was expecting to raise $500 through loans and grants that government will get from different partners for various projects.

Gwengwe told Parliament that the funds, half of which are in the form of grants, would also help in easing forex challenges in the country.

Other loans that Parliament has so far approved include the $60 million (K62 billion) for the rehabilitation of Kapichira Hydropower Dam and financing transmission and distribution infrastructure damaged by Tropical Storm Ana in January this year.

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