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‘Harmonise budget, 7th growth plan’

ECONOMICS Association of Zambia (EAZ) says there is need for Government to harmonise the 2017 budget and the seventh National Development Plan (NDP) as there has been a mismatch between the two programmes.
EAZ president Chrispin Mphuka observed that the mismatch has often resulted in non-achievement of the goals set out in the plan.
Dr Mphuka said in an interview that Zambia has had many development plans in the past but that little has been achieved because there have been no monitoring mechanisms to track budget expenditure in relation to the NDP.
“There’s been a mismatch between what is in the budget and what is normally in the NDPs. I think we must now come up with a development plan which is tied to the medium-term expenditure framework and the NDP.
“When we have these corresponding matches, then we will be sure to meet the goals that have been set out in the NDP,” he said.
Dr Mphuka said now that Government is starting the new seventh NDP, EAZ is hopeful that there can be proper orientation of the budget towards the NDP goals.
On the 2017 budget, he said Government should continue the fiscal consolidation which it began this year.
He said it is highly unlikely that Government will achieve the targets set in the budget for this year because of the elections which gobbled up a lot of money.
Dr Mphuka, however, said if the Government could maintain fiscal discipline, it is likely that the fiscal deficit can be reduced to acceptable levels.
“Right now, we don’t know exactly the percentage at which the fiscal deficit stands but it may be close to 10 percent of GDP, which is very high. We therefore expect that next year there should be serious efforts by Government to stick to the plan and ensure that we reduce the deficit.
“When you get towards October, November and December, there is not enough food and this pushes up maize prices,” Dr Mphuka said.
He, however, was quick to note that the Food Reserve Agency has enough reserves which can be used to modulate a rise in food prices.

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