Government is still seeking over K300 million to make up the shortfall in order to fund the 2020 Census of Population and Housing, which translates as 40 per cent of the total census budget.
And Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu says government has committed only K15.8 million of the budgeted K75 million required to finance the 2020 Census.
Meanwhile, National Development Planning Minister Alexander Chiteme has pleaded with international cooperating partners to help government source the much-needed funding to ensure that the crucial exercise is effectively conducted and completed on schedule.
Speaking during 2020 Census Resource Mobilization Meeting in Lusaka, Wednesday, a combined team of Ministry of Finance and National Development Planning officials, including Dr Ng’andu and Chiteme, disclosed that government was still scouting for around K303 million, which represents 40 per cent of the total 2020 Census of Population and Housing budget.
According to the Ministry of National Development Planning, the total 2020 Census of Population and Housing budget is K758,273,806.
But government has only committed to finance 60 per cent of the budget, leaving 40 per cent remaining unfunded.
This means that government has committed K454,964,283.60, leaving an outstanding balance of K303,309,522.40.
And Dr Ng’andu announced that this year’s national budget provided for K75 million, but that the Ministry of Finance had only released K15.8 million towards conducting the exercise.
“It’s important for me to start by acknowledging the importance of this exercise. The Census is absolutely essential, it’s critical for planning purposes, and we will do everything that is possible for us to make sure that the budgetary constraints that government is facing, currently, do not pose a challenge to the carrying out of this exercise. The 2020 budget provides for K75 million for this exercise and we have already funded up to K15.8 million, and we hope that we will be able to meet the difference in due course,” Dr Ng’andu told cooperating partners, including UN officials, at the Ministry of National Development Planning offices.
He explained that government was grappling with several other financing needs, which had slowed down timely release of funds towards the exercise, but hastened to add that government would manage to quickly raise the required funding.
“As I did mention, we are doing this despite the other financing requirements, which include in our case, the debt servicing obligations, the dismantling of domestic arrears in the market, completion of several infrastructure projects, which are around 80 per cent completion and preparatory activities for the 2021 presidential and general election. But in spite of this, we will be in a position to put the funding that is required for the Census to be successful,” Dr Ng’andu added.
Meanwhile, Chiteme pleaded with international cooperating partners to help government source the much-needed funding to ensure that the 2020 Census was effectively conducted and completed on schedule.
“Let me begin by addressing the ‘elephant in the room’ that we are looking for a lot of money to do this important census! Since the inception of our government in 1964, we’ve had successful censuses every other 10 years, and we are hoping that we have this census this year. The census budget is K758,273,806, which is equivalent to US $53,212,197 at an exchange rate of K14.25 per US dollar,” Chiteme said.
“Government has made some commitments that they will support the budget to the tune of about 60 per cent; we have already started some processes, which is mapping and listing; we have also done some procurement procedures for the tablets we are supposed to be using in this census, and we are hoping that we can get support from our cooperating partners of about 40 per cent of the total amount that we need for the census. I want to appeal to all of you to look at the importance of this event and to make sure that we can get some credible support.”
He stressed that his Ministry would be following-up on pledges made by various stakeholders to come up with the required cash.
“I remember last year, we had a meeting where we had a lot of cooperating partners and a lot of pledges were made. I am also going to see to it that those pledges are followed-up and those that pledged could come forth with their pledges,” said Chiteme.
The 2020 Census of Population and Housing is meant to provide Zambia with accurate, reliable and timely, fundamental data for planning and policy formation, among several other main objectives.
According to the Ministry of National Development Planning, one of the disadvantages of failing to execute one this year would mean that there would be serious gaps in the planning for next year’s general election, delivery of public services and investment decisions.
UN officials, who included Resident Coordinator Dr Coumba Mar Gadio, among others, also heard progress made in securing various pieces of equipment, such as tablets, provided by Britain’s DfID.