Editor's Comment

PAYE relief glimmer of hope

THE increase of the Pay as You Earn (PAYE) threshold from K3,300 to K4,000 comes at an opportune time when the need for relief among the workforce is greater than ever before.
The ravages of COVID-19 have inflicted untold misery on every household, and those who get meagre wages have reached breaking point.
Announcing the national budget on Friday, Minister of Finance Bwalya Ng’andu said he proposed to increase the exempt threshold for PAYE to increase disposable income.
The proposed increment is effective January 1, 2021. This means those whose monthly salary is K4,000 and below will enjoy tax relief.
It is commendable that Government has considered addressing the plight of many people who are often flat broke and live hand to mouth.
Undoubtedly, the increase in PAYE threshold will cushion the impact of the many loans a lot of workers, especially in the civil service, subject themselves to.
The lack of disposable income among people has caused a lot of stress to the point where some workers are rarely in offices because they have to look for money elsewhere to meet their needs at home after remaining with almost nothing on their payslips.
Others are struggling to get out of debts accrued from shylocks’ astronomical interest rates.
Some economic analysts have always said that Government is spending more money on roads than addressing poverty among people.
But the gesture shown by Government to respond to people’s cries exemplifies the true nature of a listening government.
It’s commendable also that the increase of PAYE comes at the backdrop of suspended salary negotiations because of the outbreak of COVID-19.
However, the relief given through PAYE by Government also calls for a change in spending habits among people.
The good intentions of the increase can only be meaningful to every income-earner if they exhibit prudent use of their incomes.
Many times families are plunged into financial doldrums because breadwinners cannot make sound priorities for their incomes.
COVID-19 has provided lessons on many aspects of life, including financial matters, and it is, therefore, important that people take advantage of such relief to ensure growth at family level as well national level.
It must be noted also that the relief given in terms of tax in this respect is not meant to provide wings for some people to increase their own threshold with the money lender.
Government provides such relief to reduce the financial burden people may have in many areas like school fees but not to empower people to engage in unproductive deals.
Workers and other income-earners should see this as an opportunity to start on a new slate in terms of financial discipline come January 1, 2021 when the increment takes effect.
Though the cost of living in the country is still high, the PAYE threshold increment is a step in the right direction especially that it has been eight years since Government increased the PAYE exempt threshold.
However, we urge Government to continue providing relief to people in many other forms because not everyone is in employment.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the K2.3 billion for social cash transfer the national budget has provided for the vulnerable people, especially in rural areas.
For now, suffice to say that the PAYE exempt threshold increment has brought hope to many who live hand to mouth.

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