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Austerity measures hold long-term benefits

THEY say desperate times call for desperate measures and this is what Government is putting in place by extending the directive to permanent secretaries to enforce the ban on travels and unnecessary expenses in their ministries.
The country is experiencing challenging financial times and all the money is needed to be channelled to areas that are most in need for the benefit of all.
The directive, while taking into account the role the government officers play in the development of the country, at the same time seeks to ensure the diminished resources are used prudently without bringing the government to a halt.
Yesterday, Secretary to the Cabinet Simon Miti said the ban on travel by permanent secretaries, senior civil servants and heads of parastatals has been extended “until further notice”.
The implementation of cost-saving measures is not a new thing in Zambia as Government has implemented it whenever need has arisen.
Late last year, former Secretary to Cabinet Roland Msiska said Government would save K4.7 billion after it implements all austerity measures.
And the challenges the country is going through are not peculiar to Zambia alone nor are they the making of anyone. They are, to some extent, due to natural occurrences such as inadequate rains.
But the fact that we cannot stop the challenges does not mean we cannot do something about our situation to save the little we already have and use it prudently for everyone to benefit.
Already, some measures such as the suspension of contraction of new non-concessional debts and cancellation of some signed but undisbursed loans have been adopted by Government.
These are some of the ways Government aims to reduce the fiscal deficit so that it comes to levels that are sustainable.
Furthermore, Government has stopped the accumulation of arrears by its ministries or any spending agents by contracting goods or services without the availability of funds even if the items were budgeted for.
Like it has been noted before, some of the trips made by some Government officials are of no benefit to the nation.
There have been instances where Government officials trot from one country to another or from one part of the country to another at the expense of work.
While it is not to only save money, there is need for Government officers to remain in their offices at a time like this to set an example to all in the implementation of the austerity measures.
The implementation of austerity measures is also necessary to ensure the continuous delivery of service to citizens.
In service delivery, Government also sources some goods and services which in turn help it to service the nation in various sectors.
For example, in hospitals, Government has to buy drugs to supply health institutions so that they in turn offer health service.
No-one should show us how to get back our fiscal stability but ourselves because we know how the funds are spent and where they are spent and this is just what Government is doing.
We should also realise that by taking austerity measures, we want our country to remain an attractive destination for investment so that trade can eventually flourish.
Let us support these measures because they will bear fruit in the long run.