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Think tanks back Lungu

PRESIDENT Lungu talks to chairman of Sinohydro Corporation Limited, Song Dongsheng (left) during the commissioning of construction works at the 750MW Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Project on Saturday. Looking on is Minister of Energy Dora Siliya (right). PICTURE: SALIM HENRY/STATE HOUSE

ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu’s economic recovery plan has continued getting rave reviews, with the Economics Association of Zambia urging stakeholders to implement the pronouncements to stabilise the economy.
EAZ president Chrispin Mphuka said Government officials and other stakeholders should ensure that they maintain fiscal consolidation and discipline.
“We support President Lungu’s road map to stabilise the economy, but above all, what is important is for major economic players to exercise fiscal discipline such as cutting down on unnecessary expenditure,” he said in an interview yesterday.
Dr Mphuka said unnecessary expenditure has always contributed to the poor performance of the economy and needs to be done away with.
Some of the pronouncements President Lungu made are curtailing of foreign and local trips by ministers and other government officials a directive to stop the quoting of prices in the US dollar and cessation of new infrastructure projects as well as the creation of foreign missions abroad.
Mr Lungu also directed that no work should be done outside the budgetary allocation and that the Zambia Revenue Authority should improve in tax collection and prosecute defaulters.
Other pronouncements are that the Food Reserve Agency should offload maize to millers in an attempt to reduce mealie-meal prices to about K65 per 25kg bag; and among others, the plan to create 10,000 jobs under the Copperbelt recovery programme.
Dr Mphuka said there is also need to stay within the confines of the national budget to avoid unbudgeted expenditures, adding that once this is done, economic problems will be greatly reduced.
He said pronouncements by the head of State last Thursday were long overdue.
Dr Mphuka hopes that given tight fiscal discipline, both domestic and external debt would stop rising.
He also said a situation where the budget deficit keeps rising is a worrying factor which needs aggressive interventions like what President Lungu pronounced when he addressed journalists during his maiden press conference.
Dr Mphuka said the EAZ has for a long time been calling for the cutting down of unnecessary public expenditure.
He said the current economic performance of the country needs concerted efforts from stakeholders to be addressed.
President Lungu announced a robust road map towards the country’s economic stabilisation during his press conference.
And some experts in development studies have said that with strict adherence, the austerity measures pronounced by President Lungu could help the economy stabilise.
In separate interviews, development analyst and University of Zambia lecturer in development studies Francis Chigunta and Zambia Open University head of development studies Thomas Mabwe said the pronouncements could yield positive results.
Dr Chigunta said when implemented, the measures will help stabilise the Kwacha against the United States dollar and other major currencies.
“The pronouncements will help in making the Kwacha appreciate against the US dollar even more and this will also help in transforming several sectors of the economy,” he said.
And Mr Mabwe said President Lungu’s measures on the miners that have lost jobs need to be applauded.
Mr Mabwe said Government needs such economic austerity measures, but that what remains is for responsible officers to implement what the President said.
He said President Lungu should also consider coming up with measures to cut expenditure on personal-to-holder vehicles for civil servants.
Mr Mabwe said a developing nation like Zambia does not need to have a fleet of vehicles for government officials operating at a high cost.


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