Finance minister Felix Mutati today unveiled a K71.6 billion budget in which he has proposed an upward adjustment of TV levy from K3 to K5 per month and a waiver on stockfeed duty.

And Mutati has announced an end to the five-year tax holiday granted to companies under the Zambia Development Agency, in a move to improve revenue collection and reduce on government borrowing.

Meanwhile, Mutati has proposed an introduction of K2 excise duty on every 50kg bag of cement, a decision that is expected to swing the construction cost upwards.

He said K49.1 billion of the total budget would be financed by domestic revenues.

“Mr Speaker, the Government proposes to spend a total of K71.6 billion in 2018 or 25.9 percent of GDP. Of this amount, K49.1 billion or 68.5 percent of the total budget will be financed by domestic revenues and K2.4 billion or 3.4 percent by grants from various Cooperating Partners. The balance of K20.1 billion or 28.1 percent of the budget will be financed through domestic and external borrowing,” Mutati told Parliament.

“Sir, I propose to spend K25.9 billion on General Public Services. Significant outlays under this category include K7.3 billion and K7.0 billion for external and domestic debt payments, respectively. I have allocated to the Constituency Development Fund a total of K218.4 million to support projects at the community level. I further propose to spend a total of K17.3 billion or 24.1 percent of the budget on the Economic Affairs function.”

The minister said K8.7 billion would be spent on road infrastructure.

“Sir, a significant allocation under this function is K8.7 billion for road infrastructure. This will include the continuation of the Link Zambia 8,000, the C400 and L400 projects. To complement these efforts, the Government will further undertake significant works to rehabilitate and upgrade feeder roads across the country through the Rural Roads Connectivity Programme,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, in order to improve airport infrastructure in the country, a total of K940.5 million has been allocated for the construction of the Kenneth Kaunda and Copperbelt International Airports…I propose to spend K6.8 billion on health. Of this amount, K1.2 billion is for procurement of essential drugs and medical supplies representing a 56 percent increase over the 2017 allocation. Sir, to reduce vulnerability and inequalities among our people, I have allocated K2.3 billion for social protection related expenditures. Significant provisions under this function include K1.1 billion for the Public Service Pension Fund and K721.2 million for the Social Cash Transfer Scheme.”

Mutati said government would spend over K2 billion on enforcing public order and safety, as well as recruitment of security personnel.

“Mr. Speaker, I have allocated K2.1 billion towards the maintenance of public order and safety. Key interventions will include the recruitment of security personnel, continued rehabilitation and construction of infrastructure and the modernisation of operations of law enforcement agencies,” he said.

And Mutati announced an end to the five-year tax holiday which was being facilitated by the Zambia Development Agency.

“Sir, I propose to discontinue the 5-year income tax holidays that is facilitated through the Zambia Development Agency. In place of the tax holiday, I propose to grant accelerated depreciation for capital expenditures by qualifying investments in priority sectors. 153. Mr. Speaker, I also propose to remove the allowable deduction for contribution to approved pension funds of K255 per month as there is already relief given at the time one gets their lump sum payment and annuities…Mr. Speaker, the Government in 2004 introduced a presumptive tax for individuals operating public service vehicles based on vehicle sitting capacity. However, these amounts have not been adjusted since 2004. I therefore propose to adjust the presumptive tax rates upwards by 50 percent,” he said.

Mutati propose to introduce a K2 excise duty on every bag of cement, but suggested a waiver on duty for feed stock.

“Mr. Speaker, to cast our tax net wider, I propose to impose a property transfer tax at a rate of 5 percent on the value attributable to a Zambian asset in cases where indirect ownership or control of a Zambian asset changes outside the Republic. 156. Sir, the record of the Patriotic Front Government in delivering infrastructure to the people is unmatched. To assist in mobilizing funds for the Infrastructure Development Fund, I propose to introduce an excise duty of K2 per 50 Kg of cement,” he said.

“Sir, diversification away from dependence on mining is key to attaining economic resilience. I therefore propose to: i) Remove customs duty on various inputs that are used in the manufacture of stock feed and fish feed. ii) Exempt unprocessed and semi-processed tobacco from VAT.”

The finance minister further increased TV levy on subscription basis, moving it away from the electricity bill payment system.

“Sir, in order to improve service delivery of public broadcasting and promote growth of the media industry, I propose to: i) Introduce a landing rights charge at the rate of K3, 150 per television channel which has less than 35 percent local content except for educational and scientific channels. ii) Increase the TV levy to K5 per month. I further propose to change the current collection through electricity bills to subscriber management service licensing system,” said Mutati.

“Mr. Speaker, in line with the strategy of moving towards a prosperous smart Zambia, I propose to migrate all motor vehicles to the electronic number plate system at a reduced fee of K500 from the current reregistration fee of K975. The system will enhance security, enable easy payment of various road user charges such as road tolls as well as the renewal of driver’s licences online. Mr. Speaker, the total net revenue gain from the various measures I have proposed above is K2.9 billion.”