FINANCE Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu says government cannot afford to give stimulus packages to all sectors of the economy at the same time as it still needs to safeguard revenue.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Chamber of Mines warned that they had become increasingly desperate because they currently lacked a robust stimulus package to continue functioning sustainably given the country’s deteriorating economy.
But in an interview, Dr Ng’andu said government would continue reviewing which sectors can be granted stimulus packages without negatively affecting government revenue.
“You see, the whole relief program is a gradual program and every time you give an incentive, that is money, you are reducing revenue. So you have to keep balancing the need for revenue for the government and the relief that may be given to industry. So we give as we see it fit and as we calculate that by giving certain incentives, we are not going to dig too much into government revenue because government has to continue running as well. So it’s not a one off, if you remember we had a first set of incentives given, we had a second wave of incentives given and it’s a process that we shall review continuously as the situation evolves. I don’t know where the situation is going, if goes further than it is, obviously we have to relook,” he said.
“So it’s a continuous thing, we can’t give all the incentives at once for everybody, it just can’t work that way. So it’s a progressive thing, we will review the situation as it develops, if it evolves, if it improves, we will respond appropriately. If it’s worse, then we will respond appropriately. The spirit here is to support industry, commerce and to go to the next period while at the same time ensuring that government has a flow of revenue for it to carry on its business. So it’s a balance.”
Dr Ngandu said government would continue acting appropriately to any emerging issues.
“It’s an evolving situation which requires responding to things as they develop. And the fiscal situation is one of the factors, you will be looking at the level of tax revenue, how much have we dropped by, if the situation will be that the deterioration in revenue is severe, then obviously we have to respond appropriately. In an event that it improves further than we expected, then we would attempt to support the commerce industry in whatever way we can, it’s a question of arithmetic. So what measures, what am I going to give them, I don’t know because like I said, we keep looking, we keep talking with industry and what we have said to the Chamber of Commerce, institutions representing tax payers and the Chamber of Mines also is that let’s keep talking, let’s keep reviewing the situation, what is possible will be done, what is not possible will not be done,” said Dr Ng’andu.