Parliament on Thursday unanimously passed Bill 14 of 2023 which authorises the Minister of Finance to borrow $30 million (about K30 3 billion) from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad).
The money is meant to provide additional financing for the implementation of the Financial Access for Rural Markets, Smallholders and Enterprise Programme.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Sosten Gwengwe said the loan will help to increase access to, and use of, a range of sustainable financial services by rural households and micro, small and medium enterprises.
“I am happy that parliamentarians have given it consideration,” he said in an interview.
The minister also touted the loan, saying it has a reasonable repayment period of 50 years with 10 years grace period at an interest of 0.1 percent.
The Bill was referred to the Budget and Finance Committee last week for scrutiny on the provisions and to give guidance on whether the loan was worthwhile.
The committee’s chairperson Gladys Ganda said the Bill was referred to using Standing Orders and following a commitment with the Open Government Partnership to have a mandatory referral of all Bills to the committee.
“It was necessary for us to scrutinise the Bill, which we did and found that it was a good one,” she said.
The programme focuses on graduation of ultra-poor households, support to financial innovation, outreach and strategic partnerships, and knowledge generation and policy.
Ganda said at the time of reporting, the programme had graduated 16 224 households out of 20 800 who were reached out to.