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Ensure effective budget implementation

AROUND this period last year, Minister of Finance and National Planning Situmbeko Musokotwane unveiled the inaugural budget of the new dawn administration in which he made some unprecedented pronouncements. One such proclamation was the increased allocation to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) from a paltry K1.6 million in 2020 to K25.7 million in 2022. Today, Dr Musokotwane is presenting the 2023 national budget in Parliament and Zambians from various walks of life will be glued to television with high expectations about more salient decrees. Budgeting for the country is important because it enables Government to plan and manage its financial resources to support implementation of various programmes and projects that best promote development. Any political party which forms government has certain social, political and economic responsibilities to attend to. In countries with deep cultural, religious and economic diversity, it is extremely important for government to allocate resources astutely. To do this, Government considers various factors such as uplifting the underprivileged sections of society, facilitating financial inclusion, mitigating regional disparity, upgrading defence capabilities, and providing proper educational facilities. Therefore, a well-planned national budget is of utmost importance for any government to ensure economic stability and growth. There are many reasons why it is important for Government to have a budget, and one of them is proper resource pool allocation. When it comes to budgeting, identifying areas of weakness helps Government allocate resources in a useful and sustainable manner. This is one of the most fundamental objectives behind framing a government budget. It is important for Government to ensure that funds reach where they are needed the most.
Therefore, using past data to identify sections of society in need of economic welfare policies and implementing those policies enables Government to demonstrate efficient governance and achieve economic stability of the country. Ensuring economic growth is also a critical component of the budget because it helps Government regulate the imposition of taxes in various sectors. Investment and expenditure are some of the most prominent factors which immensely contribute to economic growth of any country. That is why as Dr Musokotwane presents next year’s budget today, civil servants, technocrats, and other people involved in the implementation of the budget are expected to play their role in an effective manner. The new dawn administration is in a hurry to take Zambia to another level in so far as the country’s economic development is concerned.
The onus, therefore, rests on technocrats and others involved in the implementation of the budget to rise to the occasion and do what is expected of them. In the recent past, there have been complaints about development projects not being completed in good time and the funds allocated to such ventures sent back to the Treasury. This should be avoided at all costs by technocrats seeing to it that projects directly financed through the national budget are completed within the set time frame. Zambians also want financial prudence in the utilisation of the budgeted resources to avoid the current situation where the Auditor General cites numerous misapplication and misappropriation of public resources. The money allocated in the budget must be used for intended purposes, and this calls for fiscal discipline in the use and management of public funds. With the allocation to CDF likely to remain the same or increased again, there should be adequate sensitisation on the utilisation of the funds for development projects at community level. We, as such, call on Government to build capacity in communities on efficient utilisation of resources because they have never handled the huge sums of money they now have under CDF. When properly sensitised, even their project proposals under CDF will easily be approved for implementation. Zambians expect a lot from the new government, hence the need to support its efforts to develop the country.