Mazabuka Central UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo has wondered why Minister of Finance Dr Bwalya Ng’andu did not reduce Value Added Tax to attract compliance among citizens.
And Mbabala UPND member of parliament Ephraim Belemu says it would have been more logical for Dr Ng’andu to maintain minimum budget lines owing to the scanty resources he is operating with.
Debating the 2020 budget in parliament, Tuesday, Nkombo noted that high taxes were encouraging tax evasion.
“We have heard arguments about tax, honourable Minister of Finance, I expected that you should have reduced VAT, that way, it would have attracted, you did a good thing to reinstate it from your colleagues who wanted it to go into extinction, but I think [what] you could have done better is to reduce it even to 14 per cent. What that does is that you get volunteers who will come into the tax net. That’s what you need, you need every Zambian to participate in tax contribution, if you dropped the vat taxes down, there is no country that has developed based on tax, and you will see people want to voluntarily become compliant. Today, the heavily taxed few always evade it, they are always evading tax,” Nkombo argued.
“The indictment has come on those of them that you found honorable minister, those who were praising songs about good sales tax including the Zambia Revenue Authority, they came here defending a useless tax regime which we have never before [seen working] anywhere in the world, when we ask them where has it worked, they say that Central African Republic, can you say Central African Republic, a highly disorganized state is something that you can emulate? You cannot.”
And Nkombo said allocating “obscene” resources to public order and safety was a sign that Zambia had a paranoid dictator who was afraid of his own shadow.
“The obscene amount of money that they have put in public order and safety is the reason why where that is concerned, the bulk of the debts that we have recorded is the policeman shooting a civilian, I want to see someone who can argue about this point. The police have been given too much power, they are like kings, they can shoot someone point blank and they live to enjoy the benefits. I can only translate to say we live in a dictatorial regime, that’s how dictators look like; there is no other complexion for dictators where you put the bulk of your resource to suppress human beings, your fellow human beings. I don’t mind about eating snakes, I want to be relevant with this debate. When you put too much in protecting yourselves, it goes without saying that you have become a tin pot dictator, paranoid dictator, scared of your own shadow,” charged Nkombo.
“Release that money, let it go to the needy, let it go for social cash transfer, let it work for food security pack as against buying uniforms, gum boots, bullets, rubber bullets, tear gas to suppress human beings. Half the time, Madam Speaker, the state is embarrassed under the same issue of public order.”
And Belemu wondered why Dr Ng’andu included so many budget lines when he had limited resources.
“I have a problem because this budget has not said anything that we have never heard in this House before, we have heard everything. We have heard everything here and it has never happened and we are not likely to achieve anything here so the thing is the best that we can do as a country is to sit back and say look, if we can only manage to spend on four or five items, these are the items we are going to spend on than attempting to do a budget with so many budget lines and at the end of the day, achieve nothing. Madam, I have a problem with this until the minister of finance explains why this CDF has not been consistent,” Belemu said.
He warned that harder times were yet to come with the Eurobond bullet payment of US$750 million due in 2022.
“As we stand today, 2022 will be harder than the way it is today, going forward because then the Eurobond will be due and so many other things will begin to manifest in the economy which right now appears like they are covered but those people have been expending money whose source is hugely borrowing, it will begin to show. This budget should have been a platform for the Minister of Finance to tell us how we are prepared or how much we are prepared to come and pay the huge loans that they borrowed despite advise,” said Belemu.