Editor's Comment

Step forward with tax proposals

GOVERNMENT has never claimed to be the wisest.
Rather, it seeks the collective wisdom of the citizens – individually or body corporates – before arriving at certain decisions such as the Constitution.
However, it is not just the Constitution in which Government seeks input from a cross section of society.
The national budget is another activity to which Government invites input from citizens before Cabinet condenses the document which the Minister of Finance will present to Parliament in October.
Citizens should appreciate that a national budget is an annual statement Government presents to Parliament projecting revenues and expenditure for the forthcoming financial year.
That is why it is debated and passed by Parliament – the legislative arm of Government.
It should not therefore be perceived as an academic exercise allocating revenues and borrowed funds to economic growth, rather as an important component of governance
Budgeting in Zambia starts with preparation when the Ministry of Finance dispatches its officers countrywide to consult stakeholders on what they think the Government should consider in its fiscal policy for the following year.
That is why it is always good to get input from stakeholders since they are the ones who chose this government to lead the nation.
That is why citizens and other interest groups such as the Economics Association of Zambia, the Chamber of Mines, the Zambia National Farmers Union, the labour movement, the Church and student unions should embrace Minister of Finance Bwalya Ng’andu’s call for submission of tax and non-tax proposals for the 2020 budget and the 2020-2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
However, this does not stop ordinary citizens from making their submissions – either orally or written – during public sittings due to start soon.
Others may write directly to the Ministry of Finance and their submissions will be taken into account.
Government is genuinely looking forward to more engagements and cooperation with both the public and private sectors during the remaining quarters of 2019.
The national budget is everyone’s baby because we are all affected in one way or the other, whether in employment, business, studying or just a total dependant.
Citizens should never think that the national budget is a preserve of the economists or accountants.
Like the Constitution, its impact is felt throughout the financial cycle.
That is why Government wants to tap into the best brains in the country because people have different expertise at various levels of life.
Government, on other hand, should not take people’s submissions as an annual academic exercise just to be seen to have consulted.
When Government factors in the various submissions from all walks of life, more citizens will be encouraged and feel ownership of the budget which the minister will present.
When stakeholders’ submissions are brought on board, there will be little, if any, friction between Government and other stakeholders.
Even the Members of Parliament will be happy that people’s proposals have been embraced and will gladly pass the budget.
As people begin to prepare what to input into the 2020 budget, they should also bear in mind that Government needs to raise taxes to enhance service delivery.
It should also be borne in mind that the Government desires to develop the country but without squeezing the financial life out of individuals and companies.

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