Editor's Comment

Budget to set development tone

TODAY, Zambians from various walks of life will be eagerly looking forward to hearing what Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda is presenting to the nation in Parliament as he outlines Government’s revenue and expenditure plans for next year.
We know that many of us are expecting a lot from the budget such as more money in our pockets, reduced Value Added Tax on food items and inputs for agriculture and manufacturing as well as a higher Pay As You Earn tax-free threshold.
Whenever the budget is about to be prepared, the Ministry of Finance always invites stakeholders and other interested parties to make submissions on what the ministry should consider to include or exclude on tax and policy issues in the budget.
This is done every year and various non-governmental organisations (NGOs), church mother bodies and business associations as well as farmer groups make submissions on what they think the Ministry of Finance should consider in the budget.
Some submissions are taken on board whilst others are not or partially considered because of the various considerations the Ministry of Finance technocrats and those from the Zambia Revenue Authority have to consider in arriving at the final budget.
But it is important to realise that the budget is not infinite.
It is very limited in nature and not all the suggested changes, whether increases in allocation or reduction in taxes, can be taken on board because the resource envelop for expenditure is restricted.
But one thing we welcome is Government’s intentions to ensure that the budget is tailored to sustain economic growth achieved over the past decade.
The projected growth must now be inclusive and pro-poor so that benefits of the stable macroeconomic environment can benefit many people.
Mr Chikwanda is expected to deliver a mission statement that will meet aspirations of the poor, the unemployed, the workers, farmers and businesses as well as church denominations.
Everyone, including large mining firms and gemstone miners, wants a piece of the cake in the name of the budget but like we have said before, the budget has limits.
But even within its limitations, we expect that the budget will try to address the needs of as many expectants as possible so that they can contribute to propelling the country forward.
It is a difficult balancing act the minister faces but at the end of the day this is what has to be done so that the economy moves forward.
We are confident the budget will build on the successes of the past five years and this will entail continuity of the various programmes such as education, health services, infrastructure, agriculture and tourism.
The focus of Government is job creation and this means resources will be invested in priority sectors that have potential to create a lot of jobs as this leads to poverty reduction.
It is therefore important that we all rally behind the budget because its overall aim is to drive the country forward so that in future we have a better Zambia.

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