May 1, 2019 / 10:27 AM / a year ago

Zambia's 2018 fiscal deficit above forecast at 7.5 pct of GDP

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Zambia’s 2018 fiscal deficit stood at 7.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), higher than an earlier government projection of around 7 percent, Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said on Wednesday.

Mwanakatwe said in a statement after meeting an International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation that measures to keep the deficit within the 2019 budget target of 6.5 percent of GDP would be undertaken.

“In this regard control measures around debt accumulation and halting arrears build-up will be implemented expeditiously,” she said.

Zambia’s external debt was at $10.05 billion at the end of last year, up from $9.51 billion at the end of the third quarter of the same year, Mwanakatwe said.

The southern African state’s total debt as a percentage of GDP was 73 percent, Mwanakatwe said, adding that the government and IMF delegation agreed on the data’s accuracy.

The IMF rejected Zambia’s borrowing plans in February last year, saying they risked making its debt load harder to sustain.

Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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