Editor's Comment

It’s time for prudent expenditure

COPPER BUDGET briefcase

PARLIAMENT has finally approved the 2017 budget after weeks of debating it.
The approval of the budget now gives Government, through the Ministry of Finance, authority to begin spending the money.
However, beyond spending is the clarion call for economic recovery and the sovereignity debt restructuring.
This is the first budget with Felix Mutati as the Minister of Finance and focus will be on him as he drives the implementation of the budget he has dubbed ‘Zambia Plus’.
Approval of the K64.5 billion unanimously is a symbol of confidence in Mr Mutati’s leadership in delivering the five pronged economic recovery plan.
The economy, one of the fastest growing in the region, has not been in the best shape, and focus for 2017 will be to rebound and get it back on track.
That is why it is premised on five economic recovery pillars to ensure that the Ministry of Finance and its partners keep track of the budget.
The nation is fatigued with tales of reckless expenditure which have contributed to the current economic malaise.
Zambia just has to take the bull by the horns and face the challenges head-on, hence the austerity measures being enforced and the demand for prudent expenditure of public resources.
President Lungu set the tone last month when he announced a number of austerity measures and cut his salary by half.
The economy has been strained by external and domestic debts, which Government is working tirelessly to liquidate.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed to 2.8 percent in 2015 from 4.9 percent in 2014.
Slower regional and global growth, which saw the reduction of copper prices, has contributed to external shocks.
Reduced water levels in the country’s major water bodies arising from poor rains led to a power crisis from 2015 to this year and this had an adverse effect on the economy.
The World Bank forecasts that growth will remain at 2.9 percent in 2016, before improving in 2017 (4 percent) and 2018 (4.2 percent).
The task at hand is not easy but with focus and determination by all the stakeholders, Government will attain the five ambitious economic pillars.
Citizens expect better management of the economy with eyes on the five-pronged economic recovery plan and more importantly on those tasked to implement this task.
Experts tasked to drive the plan should exercise a lot of caution, and also be pragmatic. With good management of the resources, Zambia would significantly reduce reliance on external borrowing, which is not only expensive but is at times also with undesirable strings attached.
For a country which is in a hurry to develop, mismanagement of public resources should be a thing of the past.
Among other governance institutions, the Office of the Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee at Parliament should track the budget so that the economic recovery plan is achieved.
Economic recovery is vital to the successful implementation of the 7th National Development Plan, which will run from 2017 to 2021.
The NDP is the conduit for guiding Government in re-aligning the economy.
After all, the recovery of the economy is critical to poverty reduction and instilling investor confidence.
Let everyone roll up their sleeves and get down to work for the good of the country.



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