Zambia’s Finance Minister rejected a call from China for the World Bank and other multilateral lenders to join a restructuring of the country’s debt and warned that delays were holding up the economy, the Financial Times reported on Monday.
In an interview with the newspaper, Situmbeko Musokotwane said that “time is of the essence” to finish a restructuring of about $13 billion of external debt this year and signalled that China’s demand was a distraction from talks for reducing the loans.
The People’s Bank of China and the Ministry of Finance both did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Government data showed Zambia owed Chinese creditors nearly $6 billion of the total $17 billion external debt at the end of 2021.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other Group of Seven have grown increasingly frustrated about what they see as foot-dragging by China in moving forward on debt rescheduling for countries seeking help. China, for its part, argues that multilateral institutions should also be required to accept reductions in the debt they are owed.