Columnists Features

Campaigns should sensitise on need for domestic resource mobilisation


CAMPAIGNS for the much awaited August 11, 2016 general elections kicked off on Monday.
Political players are now busy canvassing for votes in sections, wards and constituencies by using whatever medium they have at their disposal.
As the various political competitors begin this marathon journey, they will do well to look outside the box and align themselves with trends on the international stage.
After all, they will be members of the various Parliamentary Committees, locally and abroad.
One of the issues trending among international financiers is domestic resource mobilisation.
This is so relevant to Zambia following the country’s graduation to the lower middle income status.
This has resulted in donors cutting down aid and some embassies such as Denmark, The Netherlands and Norway pulling out.
The justification is that after 50 years of independence, the country has matured to start handling some of its current and emerging socio-economic challenges.
Therefore, all those to be adopted by the various political parties should start thinking at how the country will depart from aid dependency and instead focus on self-financing of projects at section, ward and constituency levels that would in turn increase local ownership of development processes and outcomes.
This was one of the lessons Members of Parliament (MPs) from 12 Southern African Development Community (SADC) got at the Parliamentary committees’ symposium on criminalisation and stigmatisation: disincentives to the realisation of fundamental human rights in Johannesburg, South Africa, last week.
The symposium was convened by the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
The SADC-PF is a body representing over 3,500 parliamentarians from 14 countries in the SADC region, namely Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South, Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Established by the SADC Summit in 1997, the Forum is the vehicle through which MPs, as the elected representatives of the people, promote the regional integration agenda of SADC.
Kubeshni Govender representative of European parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) in her presentation ‘A Learning Programme for SADC Parliamentarians Role of Parliamentarians in African Economic Growth’ said: “The imperative now is for policy-makers and businesses to work together to accelerate economic reforms and strengthen the fundamentals that underpin growth.”
She said one priority will be to diversify exports and national revenue sources to eliminate the volatility that arises when resource prices change dramatically. “This is critical for increasing Africa’s ability to finance its own development by better mobilising domestic resources through better tax and customs collections and finding ways to encourage more savings,” Ms Govender said last Wednesday when she addressed legislators.
She said these resources are important to African countries because they are potentially the biggest source of long-term financing for sustainable development and the source of all state governance such as the provision of public goods and services.
They can, as stable and predictable revenues, help strengthen fiscal institutions and long-term fiscal planning and they also represent an exit from long-term aid dependency and increased local ownership.
AWEPA’s domestic mobilisation programme aims to raise awareness of the role of parliamentarians with regard to oversight, legislation, constituency outreach and regional collaboration.
It also aims to locate domestic resource mobilisation in the context of Africa’s development and the imperatives of the Sustainable Development Goals and explain the basic concepts associated with domestic resource mobilisation.
SADC PF vice-president Joseph Njovuyalema encouraged MPs to strategise avenues for domestic resource mobilisation to help their countries depart from donor dependence.
Locally, the National Road Fund Agency has for instance raised K109 million from the National Road Tolling Programme Phase II in the first quarter of 2016.
The toll revenue raised during the quarter came from gazetted weighbridges across the country where the agency collects tolls from heavy-duty vehicles, toll stations and ports of entry.
Tolls collected from various ports of entry amounted to K96.2 million while inland tolling contributed about K13.4 million.
This is a just one of the strategies for domestic resource mobilisation.
Zesco Limited’s sustainability points to competitive tariffs for the power utility to operate profitably and meet all citizens’ expectations.
All things being equal, Zambia has what it takes to mop up resources domestically.
Bus stations and markets offer such an opportunity but revenues from bus stations and markets are going more into individuals’ pockets than to the local authority and Government.
Those individuals profiting from ‘taxes’ from bus stations and markets do not in any way develop this country but merely line their pockets.
The construction of shopping malls also offers Government for increased revenue.
1. There is also an attempt by the Zambia Revenue Authority to leverage domestic resources from landlords and other property owners through withholding tax.
While property owners and landlords are willing to part away with the 10 percent from rentals, ZRA should look at the plight of that loyal, yet overtaxed Government worker who is a landlord.
This worker is currently paying tax through the nose such that his take-home pay does not reach home.
Overall, political players have a solemn duty in sensitising voters on the need to pay tax, apart from soliciting for their votes.
Zambia can only develop from resources generated from within the country.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail production editor.

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