Various stakeholders have welcomed the 2017 National budget, which was presented to parliament by Finance Minister, Felix Mutati yesterday.
The Movement for Multi-Party Democracy MMD says that the 64.5 billion Kwacha budget is a pro-poor budget while Civil Society for Poverty Reduction says that the budget reflects President Edgar Lungu’s pronouncements made to parliament.
MMD National Chairperson for Agriculture Chishala Chilufya says that the 64.5 billion Kwacha budget will spur development in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
Mr. Chilufya told Breeze News this morning that government has provided so many incentives that people should take advantage of.
Next year’s budget is 11 billion Kwacha higher than the 53.1 billion Kwacha government proposed to spend in 2016.
And Mr. Chilufya has defended the minimal increase in PAYE, Pay As You Earn threshold from 3,000 Kwacha this year to 3,300 Kwacha for 2017.
He says that the amount for the tax exemption still gives relief to many Zambians, adding that people getting an equivalent amount in Malawi are taxed.
And Civil Society for Poverty Reduction CSPR Advocacy and Communication Programme Coordinator Maxson Nkhoma says that the budget sticks to a number of issues that stakeholders have been raising like putting in place safeguards after the removal of subsidies.
Mr. Nkhoma further stated that the budget has addressed increased funding to social sectors like the Social Cash Transfer Scheme and good budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector so that there is a shift from mining.
He also pointed out that the zero-rating of VAT, Value Added Tax on any water related machinery is welcome because of climatic change issues, which the country is facing.
Mr. Nkhoma described the budget as progressive but expressed concern that there is poor accountability in management of public funds.
He says that in 2017, government should improve its oversight on public funds so that the intended beneficiaries benefit instead of money going into the pockets of public service workers.
The 2017 national budget has prioritized the agriculture, mining and infrastructure sectors.
Finance Minister, Felix Mutati stated that Zambia’s macro-economic objectives in 2017 will be anchored on agriculture, tourism and mining to revive the economy through diversification and create 100,000 decent jobs.