There’s need to reduce budget deficit – economists

BOZ building.

SOME Lusaka-based economists have called for the implementation of stringent measures to reduce budget deficit once a new government comes into office after the August 11 general elections.
Economics Association of Zambia president Chrispin Mphuka said in an interview that once a new government is elected into office, it should implement consistent economic policies which should attract investors.
Dr Mphuka said the next budget should be strictly adhered to, to avoid the deficit from expanding.
“Deliberate targets which will see reduction of budget deficit must be properly set and adhered to,” he said.
He said the new government should also maintain a stable currency and also reduce inflation.
And Lusaka-based economist Maambo Hamaundu said the government that will be elected into office on Thursday should ensure that currency predictability is attained.
“As ordinary citizens, we should be able to say when we reach for instance June, that the rate is expected to improve because co-operates are paying tax.However, we saw the Kwacha losing strength in July and then now it has gained. So you see that the behavioural pattern of the currency is not predictable because where has the strength come from? Is it because the central bank has intervened?” he said.
Mr Hamaundu said that if the Kwacha has to gain, it should do so in a manner that is not dramatic adding that the rate should depict the reality of the open market.
And Mr Hamaundu said the agriculture sector can spur development in the country.
He said he would like to see the incoming government increase budgetary allocation to agriculture because the sector has potential to create jobs and subsequently alleviate poverty.
Mr Hamaundu also said despite implementation of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) there are no significant numbers of small-scale farmers graduating to commercial farming.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture should find ways of weaning the farmers so that they are not perpetually dependent on government support.

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