Posts tagged as: committee

South Africa:Committee Questions Legality of Gigaba’s SAA Bailout

The Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, wants the Auditor General to decide on the legality of the recent South African Airways (SAA) bailout.

This emerged at a meeting of the Committee in Parliament this week where Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba’s R3bn bailout of SAA was discussed. The Committee received an opinion from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit on the use by the Finance Minister of Section 16 of the Public Finance Management Act.

The legal opinion noted that Section 16 is intended for circumstances where good financial planning and management could not avert the need for exceptional or unusual expenditure.

Finance Minister’s decision may have been unlawful, but it is for the Auditor General’s Office to decide.

The use of this provision by the Minister of Finance for the reasons set out in the Report to Parliament and the Auditor-General does not appear to be exceptional or unusual as the expenditure was foreseeable and has been made in the past,” according to a statement from Carrim.

While the DA argues that the Finance Minister’s action was unlawful, the majority in the Standing Committee on Finance agreed that a special appropriation Bill may have been the correct way to authorise the expenditure.

The Committee was not disputing the need to prevent a default on the debt obligations of SAA as this would have serious prejudice to public interest, but questioned whether Section 16 of the Act was the right way to go about it.

“The majority in the Committee believes that the allocation to SAA could have been foreseen and should have been done through an Appropriation Bill, but accept that it was necessary to rescue SAA, otherwise there would have been a call on the total R16.4bn guarantee exposure,” Mr Carrim said.

The Committee now wants the Auditor-General to consider whether the bailout should have been done by way of a special appropriation Bill and whether the use of Section 16 was irregular or unlawful in this instance.

Carrim wants the Appropriations Committee to consider the legal opinion and process this further.

“Contrary to what is being claimed by the Democratic Alliance (DA), the legal opinion does not conclude that the Minister’s decision was definitely unlawful. It says it may be so, but it is for the Auditor General’s Office to decide on this. We will now refer the legal opinion to the Appropriations Committee to process further,” said Carrim.

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South Africa:MPs Grill Regulator Over Train Safety

By Sune Payne

Safety on trains eclipsed the Auditor General’s report to the Select Committee on Economic and Business Development of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Wednesday.

Instead of discussing the 2016/2017 audit findings of PRASA and the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), which were supposed to be tabled, the safety of rail passengers dominated the NCOP hearing.

The RSR failed to get a clean audit, but this was quickly overshadowed by MPs’ concerns over media headlines of safety issues at PRASA.

The RSR serves as an oversight body to develop regulations, safety standards and frameworks for railway transport in South Africa, including PRASA and Transnet.

Several MPs referred to a video, published by GroundUp, showing commuters train surfing. It prompted questions and comments from the Committee.

MP Boinglotlo Nthlebe (ANC) asked the RSR what measures they would implement to ensure passengers’ safety. Nthlebe asked why if trains serviced so many communities, safety had still not been addressed.

“What are you going to do to improve safety?” asked MP Johan Londt (DA). He said that travel conditions on the rail service have not improved, especially when it came to theft, outdated coaches and overcrowding.

Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Wilhelm Farber, asked what RSR’s safety plans were and what action could be done to stop train surfing.

“We acknowledge the issues,” said the CEO of RSR, Nkululeko Poya, and added that the RSR “understands some of the concerns of the community”.

However, Poya pointed out to the Committee that RSR played an oversight role, which included railway safety, but to implement that it would require the Department of Transport to issue new safety regulations.

During the meeting, RSR said they had licensed 130 new train drivers. A total of 18 would be used for the new electric trains.

PRASA was scheduled to deliver its Annual Report to the committee, but it was not ready yet.

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Namibia:MPs Want Re-Introduction of Vaccination Subsidies

By Albertina Nakale

Windhoek — The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources has recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry re-introduce vaccination subsidies for both communal and commercial farmers in order to curb the spread of diseases and improve livestock health.

The number of outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, anthrax, lung-sickness and rabies has increased and pose challenges to communal and commercial farmers. The call for the re-introduction is also aimed at increasing overall animal productivity.

Until recently, government subsidised vaccination of livestock for farmers, but farmers are now expected to purchase and administer the vaccines for their livestock themselves.

Some farmers have been complaining that vaccines are expensive and prices are not standardised. They say a 100ml bottle can cost anything between N$680 and N$900 at various private businesses.

The farmers also feel some private businesses do not provide proper information on how to store, administer and handle the vaccines.

The proposals by the parliamentary standing committee to re-introduce vaccination subsidies follow a motion tabled in the National Assembly by DTA president McHenry Venaani in June 2016. After debates in the National Assembly it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Natural Resources for further scrutiny and to report back.

As part of the action plan, the committee conducted public hearings and consultative meetings in the Ohangwena, Kavango West, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions. The meetings, which were conducted in two phases, took place between May 8 and June 2 this year.

The meetings were aimed at providing a platform for farmers to state their concerns, challenges and the difficulties they face in the quest to ensure good health for their livestock. The committee chairperson Sophia

Swartz subsequently presented their findings on the motion on livestock vaccination subsidies.

The overall aim, she said, was to devise mechanisms to ensure vaccines are subsidised. She said after consultation, the committee recommended that vaccination subsidies be re-introduced and vaccines directly procured by and stocked at the extension offices of the Agriculture Ministry and not sold to private businesses.

The motion proposed that government subsidises the supavax, anthrax and brucellosis vaccines. It further proposes that in communal areas, government should provide a subsidy of up to 80 percent towards the purchase of the vaccines.

Venaani’s motion also suggested that on communal farms under the Resettlement Scheme, government could provide a subsidy of up to 35 percent for the purchase of the vaccines. Further, the standing committee proposed that to commercial farmers, government could provide a subsidy up to 10 percent towards the purchase of vaccines.

Swartz said the committee found out there was an acute shortage of staff in extension offices, particularly inspectors to monitor and control vaccinations.

They also found that there was a lack of markets for farmers residing north of the Veterinary Cordon Fence, saying such farms have nowhere to sell their livestock, because Meatco’s mobile abattoirs only buy from selected farmers in communal areas.

Therefore, the committee advised the Agriculture Ministry to assist communal farmers to find markets for their livestock, adding that this will enable them to re-invest in the health of their livestock. Moreover, they called on the same ministry to intensify efforts to create awareness and train farmers on how to vaccinate livestock.

Swartz said the ministry should embrace the concept of para-veterinary officers, whereby selected members of the community are trained as animal health community workers, responsible for correctly injecting and vaccinating livestock.communal and commercial farmers to curb the spread of foot and mouth disease, anthrax, lung-sickness and rabies.

Nigeria:Senate Urges Govt, States to Adopt CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme

By Ahuraka Isah and Solomon Ayado

Abuja — Senate yesterday urged government at all levels to adopt Anchor Borrowers Programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN in order to address the problem of food security and poverty eradication in the country.

It, however, mandated its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development to investigate the circumstances surrounding the delay in extending this laudable intervention programme to other states and the FCT.

Similarly, the upper legislative chamber directed the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Presidential Committee on Rice Production and other agencies concerned to sustain the momentum in states where the programme is already launched.

These were sequel to a motion, titled, “The Anchor Borrowers Programme and its benefits to farmers”, sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi (APC Kwara North).

Senator Lafiagi said the senate was aware that “the CBN in line with its developmental function established the Anchor Borrowers Programme which is intended to create a linkage between anchor companies involved in processing of key agricultural commodities and small holders farmers.”

He expressed worry about the unpredictable price of crude oil and its resultant effect on the revenue profile of the country, and therefore stressed the need to boost agricultural production and non-oil exports in order to diversify the economy from solely depending on oil revenue.

The lawmaker further said, “There is need to create economic linkage between small holder farmers and reputable large processors with a view to increasing agricultural output.”

Similarly, he said it was important to assist rural smallholder farmers to grow from subsistence to commercial production in order to reduce agricultural commodity importation and conserve external reserve and also increase capital utilization of agricultural firms.

According to him, “The thrust of the programme is the provision of farm inputs in kind and cash (for farm labour) to small holder farmers to boost production of these selected commodities, stabilize inputs to agro-processors and create a new generation of farmers/entrepreneurs thereby assuring employment.”

Senator Lafiagi added that “loans granted to the smallholder farmers under this programme are to be repaid with harvested produce delivered to the anchor and must cover the loan principal and interest which must not be above 9 per cent per annum.”

He noted that the CBN and the Presidential Committee on Rice Production launched the programme in some states like Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Imo and Cross River which has led to massive production and exportation of rice in 2017.

The former Kwara State governor also stated that “the programme has led to massive cultivation, self- sufficiency in food production and job creation for the unemployed youth through farming in the selected states where the programme is being practiced.”

In his contribution, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan maintained that agriculture remains the surest way to fight poverty and ensure peace and security in the country.

He, therefore, advised that the Anchor Borrowers Programme should be targeted at smallholder farmers across the country, saying that “if this is done, there will be employment to better the lives of various families.”

Senator Lawan added that the programme should be left for farmers who have no access to loans and funds to embark on commercial farming so that its impact could be felt in the country.

Also contributing, Senator Barau Jibril (APC Kano North) said apart from food security, the problem of inadequate raw materials for industries in the country would become a thing of the past if the programme is extended to every state.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, in his remarks said agriculture could still become the mainstay of the nation’s economy if given top priority.

This Week – MPs Refuse Age Limit Consultation Cash

Photo: The Independent

President Yoweri Museveni

By The Independent

After Speaker Rebecca Kadaga asked MPs to consult with their voters, the parliamentary commission is said to be planning to facilitate each MP with Shs20million to fund their activities in the constituencies about the tabled constitutional amendment bill to remove the presidential age limit.

But, several opposition legislators and some from the ruling NRM rejected this move saying money this money is meant to manipulate and lure them into accepting the proposal. Semujju Nganda the opposition Chief Whip told journalists that MPs are already provided with money to cater for such events under their usual allowances.

The bill moved by Igara West Legislator Raphael Magyezi has gone through its first reading and has been now referred to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for scrutiny.

****

Uganda

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Police Summon Monitor Over Age Limit Budget Story

Photo: The Independent

President Yoweri Museveni

By Amos Ngwomoya

Kampala — Police authorities have summoned Daily Monitor’s editor to appear before the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) over age limit budget story.

The story in question was published on October 12 under the headline: Age limit budget for 23-man team leaks.

The executive editor, Mr Charles Odoobo Bichachi is needed at CID headquarters in Kibuli tomorrow at 10am.

“You are therefore in pursuance of the provisions of Section 27A of the Police Act (as amended) required to report before the undersigned at CID headquarters Kibuli on 16 October 2017 at 10:00hrs in that regard,” a letter signed by Mr Isaac Oketcho on behalf of the Director Criminal Investigations reads in part.

Mr Vincent Ssekate, the CID spokesperson confirmed the summonses to Daily Monitor editor in a televised interview on Friday.

He also explained that they [CID] received a complaint from the architect of the controversial Constitutional (Amendments) Bill, 2017 aka the Age Limit Bill, Mr Raphael Magyezi (Igara West).

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The police summons come hot on the heels of the controversial ‘Age Limit Bill’, which seeks to amend Article 102 (b) to remove the age caps for presidency.According to Daily Monitor’s story, at least 23 legislators, 15 Parliament staff, 15 police officers and five drivers are to draw Shs17.7m in allowances more than 10 days for upcountry consultations on the proposal to scrap presidential age limit.Reacting to CID summonses, Mr Bichachi said: “We are curious to know what issues the police or any other party has with our story that is grounded in facts, balance and perspective. We shall report to CID as summoned and hear what police has to say.””The removal or retention of the age limit cap in the constitution is a matter that touches on every Ugandan. We shall cover it in its entirety for the benefit of our readers and the country in general,” he added.The draft Bill to scrap the presidential age limit caps from the 1995 Constitution was recently tabled by Mr Magyezi amid stern protests from MPs across the political divide.House Speaker Rebecca Kadaga forwarded the Bill to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs after security operatives stormed the Chambers and evicted those opposed to the lifting of the presidential age limit.Next month, the 23-man committee, led by Mr Jacob Oboth Oboth, the West Budama South legislator is expected to crisscross the country soliciting views of Ugandans on the controversial Bill.Last week, Ms Kadaga adjourned the House (sine die) to allow members consult their voters.The Daily Monitor last week broke the story of the Legal Committee draft budget for conducting the public hearings on the age limit bill. It is this leaked Shs715m budget, confirmed by the committee chairperson that police authorities are investigating.However, it is not yet clear what exactly Mr Magyezi asked police to investigate.The leaked age limit budget shows that a total of Shs88m has been budgeted for accommodation, transport refund, contingency and off-pocket allowance for members when the team will retreat to a hotel to draft a report on its findings before presentation to the whole House.Police also summoned the editor of Pepper Publications, the publisher of Red Pepper, to also respond to queries on the age limit related story which they published last week.More on ThisNRM MPs Ask Museveni to Retire

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Nigeria:Alternative Energy May Force Oil Prices Down to $10 Per Barrel, Says Expert

By Oladeinde Olawoyin

As alternative energy fuels continue to attract more investors across the world, oil prices are poised to crash to just $10 per barrel, an expert has said.

In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Chris Watling, chief executive of Longview Economics, said the crash may be experienced over the next six to eight years.

In his forecast for 2018, Mr. Watling acknowledged that a key catalyst for the oil market would most likely be Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering (IPO) in the second half of next year.

Speaking on Saudi Arabia’s state oil group being launched on the international stock market, he said the oil producer needed to get it away before the crash.

“Well I think they need to get it away quick before oil goes to $10 (per barrel),” he said.

Mr. Watling, however, explained that he did not necessarily expect such an intense decline in oil prices over the coming weeks or months.

“What happens with electric vehicles is really, really important,” he said, saying that’s because “about 70 per cent of oil is used for transportation.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global outlook for oil markets in 2018 could put a dampener on hopes for higher prices.

In its report Thursday, the IEA said global stock builds, rising non-OPEC production and static oil demand could weigh on the oil price.

The organisation’s latest monthly report was published amid optimistic forecasts from the major oil producer group OPEC, with the cartel arguing there was evidence of the global oil market rebalancing following several years of low prices.

In June 2014, the price of oil collapsed from almost $120 a barrel due to weak demand, a strong dollar and booming U.S. shale production.

OPEC’s reluctance to cut output was also seen as a key reason behind the fall. But, the oil cartel soon moved to curb production — along with other oil producing nations — in late 2016.

But Nigeria was exempted from the cut imposed on member countries in January 2017, due to its low output caused by unrest in its oil rich Delta region.

In September, the Joint Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, and non-OPEC Ministerial Monitoring Committee, JMMC, also extended the exemption granted the country over the output cut.

At its meeting in Vienna, Austria, the Committee upheld Nigeria’s position that the exemption, which was extended by another six months last May, should be sustained until the country’s oil production stabilises.

The extension of the exemption period means more revenue earnings from oil exports by Nigeria, as the country would be able to export all the oil it produces as oil prices hover around $57 a barrel.

Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria’s oil minister, has said that although Nigeria was making considerable progress since October 2016 in its production recovery efforts, it was not enough as full stability had not been attained.

“Although Nigeria’s oil production hit 1.802 million barrels per day in the month of August, that was not enough justification for a call by some countries for Nigeria to be brought back into the fold,” Mr. Kachikwu pointed out.

The next JMMC Meeting is scheduled to be held in Vienna, on November 29, 2017.

Speaking further on Friday, Mr. Watling said things are changing and people may shift attention to alternative energy sources.

“We forget don’t we? I mean 120 years ago the world didn’t live on oil. Oil hasn’t always driven the global economy… The point is alternative energy in some forms is gathering speed (and) things are changing,” he added.

The Longview Economics CEO forecast the price of oil would ultimately slump to $10 a barrel over the next six to eight years.

Law Review Team Faces a Rocky Path

By Gaaki Kigambo

As Uganda’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee readies itself to scrutinise the Bill to remove presidential age limits, its composition, the time allotted to it, and the prevailing public mood all seem likely to make the journey ahead anything but pleasant, especially for its proponents.

The decision by the 23-person committee to start public hearings 20 days after it was referred to them on October 5, effectively scuttles its proponents’ plans to have it wrapped up before Christmas.

According to information from the ruling NRM party, the anxieties and excitement of the festive season would help drown out the agitation against the Bill.

The 45 days within which the Rules of Procedure require the committee to report back to the House elapse on December 5. The committee finds this period insufficient.

Festive break

If an extension is granted, it will take the committee process into March 2018 because of the festive break, which usually runs from mid December to early February.

While the Rules of Procedure say a committee may continue to sit even when the House is adjourned, it is unlikely the legal committee will work through the festive season. Any insistence to do so will reignite questions about the urgency of the Bill, which sparked unsightly brawls inside Parliament chambers on September 26 and 27.

Equally, in spite of NRM’s numerical strength on the Committee, it starts out rather disadvantaged. At least three out of its 13 members have publicly opposed the removal of age limits. One seconded the Bill and therefore the Rules bar him from contributing to or voting on it.

According to the rules, committee decisions are by consensus. If that fails then a majority vote of members present obtains. If the votes are equal, the proposal shall be taken to be lost.

Now the sponsor of the Bill Raphael Magyezi plans to petition the Government Chief Whip Rose Nankabirwa and the Speaker of Parliament to reconstitute the committee in order to guarantee an “objective report.”

“Some members have already expressed their rejection of the Bill and they have gone on record in the media on that. So they should step aside from this committee… . I’m not ready to face the committee well aware that some members will not support me,” Mr Magyezi told reporters in Parliament on October 11.

Change members

Parliament rules allow the NRM to change its members on the committee. Yet the opposition says if they do so, it will only expose their panic and further work against them in the public eye.

“You see at the beginning they thought that this matter will be between the NRM and the opposition but then NRM MPs came out and opposed it. Now they don’t trust their own,” said opposition chief whip Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda.

Some NRM MPs both on and off the legal committee who are undecided say their position is dependent upon consultations with their constituents. This is NRM’s third major hurdle.

Formal consultations await the release of “facilitation” worth Ush20 million ($5,460). Yet a few NRM legislators who have attempted to tease out public approval for the Bill have either been stopped in their tracks or roundly told off not to remove the limits.

Uganda

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Court Orders Provision of Malinzi Case Probe Status

By Faustine Kapama

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday ordered the prosecution to provide proper position of investigations in the trial of top three officials with the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF), facing fraud and 800m/- money laundering charge.

“You should give the status of investigation when the case comes for mention on October 27 and if possible proceed with conducting the preliminary hearing of this case,” Principal Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri, directed the prosecution.

He was reacting to concerns by Advocates Richard Rweyongeza and Abraham Senguji, on the position given by the Prosecutor with the Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), that investigations were complete on their part and the case file has been taken to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

In response to such position, however, Rweyongeza told the court that such line of argument was not new, as even in the previous court session a similar position was given by the same prosecution.

He argued that they get difficulties in knowing what was happening on the part of DPP. “What we can remember, the prosecution had promised to make a follow up to the DPP.

Under such circumstances, we pray for a very short adjournment so that we can know the status of this case. It appears this is very special case, as we are even denied the rights of meeting with our clients,” he said.

Similar arguments were raised by Senguji, adding that he had made follow-ups on what is happening with the DPP’s office, but he notices there was nothing forthcoming. He, therefore, pressed for shorter adjournment to put up a pressure for the DPP to expedite the process.

However, PCCB Prosecutor, Leonard Swai, responded that it is true that all the parties want the hearing of the case to take off the soonest possible. But he was quick to point out that the DPP needs enough time to go through the file before giving his directives on how to go about the matter.

Lawyers say that three things could happen when the prosecu tion’s case file is taken to the DPP. He may draw new charges for prosecution of accused persons depending on the evidence presented to him.

Furthermore, the DPP could return the case file to the investigative machinery with directives of carrying out further investigations on some aspects or enter nolle prosequi certificate in favour of the accused persons if the evidence brought before him was insufficient to mount their prosecution.

Nolle prosequi is a legal term or phrase meaning ‘be unwilling to pursue,’ a phrase amounting to ‘do not prosecute’ used in many common law criminal prosecution contexts to describe a prosecutor’s decision to voluntarily discontinue criminal charges either before trial or verdict.

In the trial, the accused persons, former TFF President Jamal Malinzi, his Secretary General Mwesigwa Selestine and Accounts Officer with the federation, Nsiande Mwanga, are facing a total of 28 counts.

On June 5, last year, in the city, with intent to defraud or deceit, Malinzi and Selestine allegedly forged an Executive Committee Resolution, purporting to show that the TFF Executive Committee decided to change the signatory of the Federation’s bank account.

Such changes, according to the prosecution, had the effect that one Edgar Leonard Masoud would be replaced by Nsiande Isawafo Mwanga. The court heard further that on September 1, 2016, at Stanbic Bank Tanzania Limited, Stanbic Center Branch in Kinondoni District, knowingly and fraudulently, Selestine uttered the false Executive Committee Resolution.

The prosecution told the court further that between November 6, 2013 and September 22, 2016, at TFF Offices in Ilala District, with intent to defraud, Malinzi forged 23 receipts bearing different numbers and money in US dollars, purporting that he had lent the federation loan of such amount, while it was false.

It is alleged that between September 1 and October 19, 2016, within the city of Dar es Salaam, jointly and together, all the three accused persons conspired to commit an offence of money laundering by acquiring the said 375,418 US dollars.

Zambia:Local Bank Needs Recapitalising – MPs

By Chila Namaiko

Members of Parliament (MPs) have called on Government to recapitalise the Zambia National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE) to enable more small-scale farmers in remote constituencies have access to empowerment funds.

Msanzala Patriotic Front (MP) Peter Daka said NATSAVE was an important financial institution especially in the area of empowering farmers, but its current status of operation was not as effective as expected.

Mr Daka said this when Bank of Zambia (BoZ) deputy governor-operations Bwalya Ng’andu appeared on Wednesday before a Parliamentary Expanded Budget Committee on Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure for the financial year ending December, 2018.

The lawmaker had earlier asked Dr Ng’andu what the Central Bank was doing to improve NATSAVE operations because majority of the farmers relied on it.

“NATSAVE is an important Government financial institution, but its current status needs recapitalisation to help those people, particularly farmers, in rural areas access more facilities like loans and farming equipment, “Mr Daka said.

Mr Daka said the bank should be empowered to deliver on its mandate of reaching out to the un-banked population citing remote areas especially in the newly created districts.

Committee chairperson Mwalimu Simfukwe wondered whether BoZ was engaging Government to ensure NATSAVE’s operations were improved.

Dr Ng’andu, however, informed the committee that BoZ was already engaging Government through the ministry of Finance on the possibilities of recapitalising NATSAVE.

The deputy governor admitted that the bank required more capital injection in its operations.

He said he was confident the recapitalisation process could be expedited by Government, a move that could empower it to open more branches across the country.

On Kanchibiya PF MP Martin Malama, who bemoaned tax compliance among business entities, Dr Ng’andu challenged lawmakers to help enact stiffer laws to deal with offenders.

He also told the committee that BoZ welcomed plans to change composition of Government bonds and Treasury Bills and lengthen the maturity profile of Government securities.

Zambia

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