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Zambia says donors withholding nearly $34 million over mismanagement

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LUSAKA (Reuters) – Britain, Finland, Ireland and Sweden are withholding nearly $34 million (25.7 million pounds) in budget support to Zambia’s social welfare and education sectors due to concerns over financial mismanagement, Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said on Thursday.

The government is confident it can address donor concerns so the aid can resume, she said. President Edgar Lungu fired a cabinet minister in charge of social welfare on Wednesday over suspicions that $4 million of funding was misused.

“The impact of withholding support is to the extent of the committed funds for 2018, which amount to $20 million for social cash transfer $13.9 million for the education sector,” she said.

The countries suspended support to the Social Cash Transfer Programme in June, she told parliament. The programme enables government to relay money to vulnerable rural households.

Britain is the only country offering budget support to the education sector and it froze its aid in June, she said.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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