Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) executive director Bernadette Deka says the marginal increase in the 2018 National budget will pause a lot of challenges on the implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) because resources might be limited.
And Deka says the Centre expects a larger amount of next year’s budget to be allocated towards the dismantling of government arrears to cushion challenges faced by both local and foreign contractors than in meeting their contractual obligations.
“On the 10th of September, 2017, the Ministry of Finance released the 2018-2020 ‘Green Paper’
Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which focuses on sustaining economic growth and development through continued implementation of the Economic Stabilisation and Growth Program (ESGP). The Green paper further projects the 2018 budget at K65 billion Kwacha, this is a marginal increase from the 2017 Budget which stood at K64.5 Billion and it is consistent with PMRC’s expectation of a marginal increase in governments’ expenditure, as there is the need to reduce on the budget deficit,” Deka stated.
“We note that this marginal increase may cause challenges in the successful implementation of the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) as resources to implement some key and new programmes in the national plan maybe limited. PMRC also expects significant amounts to be allocated towards the dismantling of government arrears, a process that is already on going. This will help ease the challenges of both local and foreign contractors that have faced challenges in meeting their contractual obligations.”
She said PMRC expected government to increase allocation towards research programmes.
“PMRC also expects Government to significantly increase allocations towards research and development across a variety of sectors, this is important in moving the economy from a primary producer of goods to a secondary producer. This will also increase productivity within the economy and further Zambia’s aspirations of becoming a manufacturing hub in the region,” she said.
Meanwhile, Deka called on government to continue with the Zambia Economic Recovery Programme also known as ‘Zambia Plus’ to compliment both the budget and 7NDP implementation.
“PMRC urges government to continue with the Zambia Economic Recovery Programme also called Zambia Plus. The measures in the recovery plan must be carried out side by side with the 2018 national budget so as to compliment both the budget and 7NDP implementation. We further expect the allocations towards social protection to increase to over K3.0 billion and these efforts must also be accompanied by fully migrating of the social cash transfer system to an electronic platform so as to reduce administrative cost and improve overall efficiency,” Deka stated.
And Deka asked government to allocate close to K3 billion towards the payment of pending retirement packages saying: “This will also contribute to widening the social security safety net. We also ask government to stick to the Pillar (cluster) influenced budget allocation in order to meet the aspirations of the 7th National Development Plan’s Implementation Plan (7NDP volume II) and not revert to the institutional oriented allocation in the forthcoming budget.”