SECRETARY to the Treasury Felix Nkulukusa has refuted claims by some stakeholders that the 2022 budget is not balancing up, explaining that what was presented in Parliament were just highlights.

In a post shared on his Facebook page, Sunday, Matero PF member of parliament Miles Sampa claimed the expenditure side of the Budget presented in Parliament was not balancing by K37,355,003,163.

“Spent this afternoon with some MP colleagues and we have discovered that the ‘Expenditure’ side of the Budget presented on Friday by the Finance Minister is not balancing by a huge figure of K37,355,003,163 as per attached. Wondering whether this is some arithmetic error from the learned MOF officials and the Minister or it’s a deliberate effort to ‘hide’ some expenditure in the year of the Lord 2022. Funso,” read the post.

But speaking during the post 2022 Budget Symposium held at Mulungushi Conference centre, Monday, Nkulukusa said the Minister of Finance only gave out a summary of the budget.

“What the Minister presented is a budget statement, it is not the budget. The budget is the estimates of revenues and expenditures and the compendium is in the yellow book. We call it the yellow book because we always print it in yellow. That is where we give the details of every ngwee that is going to be spent. Now when the Minister is announcing the summary of the budget, he doesn’t provide all the details that are in the budget, he provides the highlights. Mostly looking at the policy and the highlights in the numbers. What the people that are analysing and criticising have done, the Minister says ‘I am going to provide so much for the education sector’ of which the critical part is the salaries of the new recruitments and he doesn’t put everything, including operations and grand transfers. They go and just add that of which has been put in the budget and then they say ‘the budget is not adding up’. The budget is adding up, what is in the budget [speech] is just the highlights,” Nkulukusa said.

“This is a tradition that we have been doing including when you look at the time I joined the Ministry of Finance in 1999. You can go back to all the budget speeches, we have always standardized for purposes of trend analysis. Even in 2012, when the honourable Miles Sampa was at the Ministry of Finance, you go and look at the budget we presented and you analyze it the way they are analysing today. Again you will say the budget is not balanced. Because we are not providing all the numbers, because if we did that, the budget speech will be as huge as the yellow book.”

Nkulukusa said government had already raised some money for the 2022 budget.

“We are talking about domestic revenues of K98 billion. An indication is already showing that we are going to get K96 billion. Even if you just put it on growth rate alone or exchange rate, surely we must be very comfortable with that number. We are talking about financing and the Minister talked about the Special Drawing rights and part of those drawing rights which are already with us are going to the financing. This financing is not something we are starting to look for today but it is money we already have and we have already agreed to use as part of that financing. We have a lot of discussions with other cooperating partners that are willing to come on board and we are working around the clock so that we get some of that money,” said Nkulukusa.

“Obviously we have provided in the budget some numbers to pay the debt, this on the assumption we don’t have an agreement on the debt restructuring and we can’t take it for granted that debt will be restructured. We have to provide for that. Should we be able to succeed and restructure and have some fiscal space, where we can be able to either fast track the dismantling of the arrears or fast track the debt service so that we can be able to be sustainable.”