The number of beneficiaries under the Social Cash Transfer Scheme in Eastern Province is expected to increase from 67,323 in 2017 to 86, 896 in 2018.
Minister of Community Development and Social Welfare Emerine Kabashi says that this is to reduce the country’s poverty levels, which currently stand at 54.4 per cent.
Speaking during a live radio programme on Breeze FM this morning, Ms. Kabanshi further says that in 2017, government spent 28.9 million Kwacha on the social cash transfer scheme in Eastern Province and the amount will increase this year.
She revealed that her ministry is working at producing a single register of beneficiaries for all programmes under the ministry to ensure that one person does not benefit from more than one programme.
Ms. Kabanshi did not rule out a situation where some beneficiaries are benefiting from the social cash transfer scheme and the Food Security Pack.
She however, says that the Food Security Pack has worked so well that government has decided to increase the number of beneficiaries from 350 to 750 beneficiaries in each district in 2018.
And the minister indicated that payments for November and December 2017 under the Social Cash Transfer Scheme, which have delayed are currently being processed in Lusaka and will be paid out soon.
Meanwhile Ms. Kabanshi says that recovery of loans under the Village Bank programme have been successful with some districts in Eastern Province recording between 80 and 100 percent recoveries.
She says that women have so far proved to be reliable, such that there is no need to prosecute those that may be struggling to pay back.
The Chipata City Council’s Public Health Department has a shortage of staff.
Public Health Department Health Director, Constance Mulenga Chirwa, says the department currently only has five, instead of the required 44 workers.
She says because of this her department is unable to work at full capacity.
Mrs. Chirwa was responding to questions by Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo, who was inquiring why the department was failing to pick garbage on time.
She says when Chipata was upgraded to a city, the public health unit was upgraded to a department, but has not received staff.
Mrs Chirwa says the situation worsened following a directive from the Local Service Commission that all councils should trim the number of casual workers.
And Permanent Secretary, Chanda Kasolo, noted the need for the department to have more staff.
He says his office will make sure that the department gets more people to enable it ran efficiently.
Mr. Kasolo says in the meantime, the local authority can use inmates from Zambia Correctional Facilities to help in waste management.
The Ministry of Agriculture is in the process of refunding 400 kwacha, meant for legumes, to farmers who have not yet redeemed farming inputs.
Chipata District Agriculture Marketing and Development Officer Michael Zulu says the decision was arrived at, after seeing that the time for planting legumes has passed.
He says government has already written to the banks handling the electronic voucher system to start the process of refunding the farmers.
Mr. Zulu however, says the number of farmers who have not yet redeemed their inputs is small.
He explained that out of 2,100 Kwacha, one hundred kwacha is channeled to crop insurance, 400 kwacha is for legumes while farmers can get whatever they want from the remaining1, 600 kwacha.
He says this means that the affected farmers will have a choice to collect whatever they want from agro dealers out of 2,000 kwacha.